Is there a federal program that actively subsidizes work-place discrimination against one class of workers in favor of another class?

A program that invests more than $1 billion a year to promote that kind of discrimination?

Does such a program not only fund job discrimination, does it specifically go after a group of people usually thought to be, to say the least, harmless — U.S. citizen and green card college graduates?

And does that program use funds swiped from the trust funds for Social Security and Medicare that are so helpful to our elderly population?

The program’s description above, though 100 percent accurate, sounds like our government’s policy in this area had been taken over by those all-too-skillful Russian hackers.

In this Marxist opium dream, U.S. employers are given financial incentives, by their own government, to discriminate against their owncitizens. Such a program would seem be both highly unattractive and politically indefensible. What sort of weird political arrangements would facilitate such a program?

Well, it was not passed by Congress. It was created on a small scale within the Bush II administration, expanded mightily by the Obama administration, and so far, has been tolerated (in silence) by the Trump administration. It survives because it was born in and continues to grow in virtual secrecy, and because it is never described in the accurate, if harsh, terms used above. It is no opium dream; it is reality.

It is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) and it is for foreign graduates of U.S. schools. Its slogan should be: “Americans Need Not Apply”, as U.S. citizens and green card carriers are not eligible for its benefits.

How does it work? There are two stages, the second of which is worse than the initial one. In the first, or student phase, CPT (a form of OPT for current students, called Curricular Practical Training), allows the employers of foreign students, whether on or off campus, as well as the student concerned, to avoid paying payroll taxes.

These are the taxes that support the Social Security and Medicare programs, and the federal part of the unemployment insurance program. These taxes come to about 8.25 percent for both the employer and the worker. U.S. resident college students get the same break if they happen to work on campus, but they must pay the full rate if they work off-campus, as many of them do; so, to the extent that they do work off campus, the Americans are disadvantaged.

The second and more controversial phase, OPT, is for alien alumni, and the discrimination against American college grads is more pronounced. No matter where the domestic resident grads work, they and their employers must pay the full payroll taxes. Meanwhile the foreign grad, no longer a student, but still with a student visa, does not pay the payroll deductions, and neither does his or her employer. (OPT uses a magic wand to convert foreign alumni to foreign students for these tax purposes.)


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