Today the White House released a report titled, “100 Examples of President Obama’s Leadership in Science, Technology, and Innovation.” An alert reader of this blog noticed Number 25 on the list:
25. Unlocked the talents of more high-skilled immigrant workers, scientists, and engineers. The Administration has strengthened and extended on-the-job training for international STEM graduates from U.S. universities. Approximately 34,000 individuals are participating in the STEM Optional Practical Training program at present, and with these improvements the total may expand to nearly 50,000 in the first year and grow to approximately 92,000 by the tenth year of implementation.
These 34,000/50,000/92,000 foreign students will compete with American STEM professionals for jobs, reducing wages and blocking older Americans from access to many STEM jobs. Though some are “the best and the brightest,” i.e. exceptionally talented people whose immigration should be facilitated, most of them are ordinary people doing ordinary work. The president’s action here is completely at odds with his claim to want to encourage Americans to go into STEM (see items 22-24 on his list).
As many of you know, a lawsuit was brought against the OPT expansion. The White House vigorously defended the policy in court, and at this point has apparently won. But it is one thing to quietly expand the program and quite another to proudly present it as one of Obama’s great accomplishments in tech.
And, it is one thing to reluctantly cave to political pressure from the industry and universities regarding OPT, but quite another to actually believe in this action. It would seem that by actually taking public pride in the action, the Obama people really do believe that it is the right thing to do. Assuming that to be the case, the question arises, Why?
Certainly the White House ought to know better. It knew the arguments against OPT from the lawsuit, and an influential Democratic Party-aligned organization, EPI, published an excellent analysis.
One reason that the Obama people have ignored the problems with OPT is — sorry to bring this up yet again — the “Intels Good, Infosyses Bad” issue that I keep bringing up. Since the Intels are the ones to hire OPTs, it is easy to believe that OPT is a good program and should be expanded. Yet another example of the toxic nature of the “Intels Good, Infosyses Bad” attitude, which unfortunately even the immigration reform groups do little or nothing to counter.
Another possible reason is the “Let’s steal China’s engineers” notion that has been common in DC for some years. Given Obama’s aggressive stance on China in a number of ways, this seems very possible.
Quite disappointing to see Obama actually taking public pride on the OPT expansion.