The New York Young Republican Club was happy to be a signatory on the following letter to President Trump calling for reform to our guest worker program.
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing to you today on behalf of concerned graduating college seniors and young professionals nationwide. Specifically, we ask you to immediately take action to rescind the work authorization of hundreds of thousands of foreign, nonimmigrant skilled guest workers in order to ease the economic suffering of American college students and recent graduates looking for meaningful employment in these trying times.
Mr. President, the coronavirus crisis has created the worst job market for graduating students since the Great Depression. Unemployment stood at 14.7 percent in April, up 11.1 percentage points since the second semester at most universities and colleges began in January. The millions of graduating seniors face long odds to secure meaningful employment, even in white-collar jobs.
Made worse by the coronavirus economic crisis are the hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant guest workers in the United States. These guest workers – and especially those in the OPT and H-1B programs – take jobs temporarily at wages far below the average for their positions. This is because employers can easily pay these guest workers less than they pay Americans. This is not right.
The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows foreign students to work temporarily in the United States after they graduate from American universities. Incredibly, employers who hire these OPT students do not pay any payroll taxes on them. This means that a company such as Amazon or AT&T can hire a full-time worker for significantly less than an American. Importantly, this program is not congressionally mandated. The George W. Bush administration created it and the Obama administration continued its existence. Mr. President, you could direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to end this program today. You would save thousands of jobs with this simple act.
The H-1B program is one of the biggest threats to American college graduates today. We pay thousands of dollars for degrees in STEM, business, and other disciplines. Yet when we graduate, we see that large corporations increasingly utilize foreign guest workers present in the U.S. on the H-1B visa. Supporters of this program tout that these workers are exceptionally skilled foreigners at the height of their fields. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. These workers are not particularly skilled at all – they are just cheap. Corporations abuse the H-1B visa because it is cheaper to temporarily hire a foreigner than it is to hire an American graduate full-time. Guest workers are completely dependent on their employers for their work authorization and legal status. Guest workers labor essentially as modern indentured servants to their company. How can American graduates expect to compete with such a system?
Mr. President, in addition to ending the Bush-Obama OPT program, we strongly urge you to suspend the H-1B program. Millions of Americans are unemployed. Many of us will graduate with uncertain futures. The number of available jobs continues to shrink by the day. It is unconscionable that a single qualified American graduate should go without a job while scores of foreign, temporary guest workers continue to work in this country.
You can make this right by ending the OPT program and suspending the H-1B program. Suspending all guest worker programs is ideal, but the OPT and H-1B schemes are especially egregious. We look forward to seeing what you do to help America’s college students and recent graduates.
New York Young Republican Club
College Republicans at San Diego State University
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