One of the big education pushes in the United States is to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and create a workforce better suited to the jobs available in the modern era. Even schools that are not dedicated STEM schools are pushed to increase their STEM education, and other communities have gotten together to create STEM initiatives to supplement education.
The curricula behind these initiatives are fascinating to see develop and be implemented in a school where you want to push students academically to have them compete not just at home, but abroad. The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, wants to make it more difficult for students to find jobs at home.
In pushing to allow more foreign students into the so-called “optional practical training program,” DHS said that it will help businesses and colleges by keeping those foreign students in the U.S. following their American-taught science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, curriculum.
But the Center for Immigration Studies said it will punish American STEM students competing for those same jobs. And, they added, in adjusting how the foreign students are categorized as employees, they get out of paying payroll taxes used to help fund programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Currently, the program urges companies to hire STEM students for a year. CIS said firms are paid up to $10,000 to participate. The new proposal, said CIS, is to add on another year and $2,000 in bonuses.
The problem with this plan, as CIS indicates, is that it incentivizes hiring these students over students right here at home:
DHS, by defining a recent college grad as a student, takes both the worker and the employer out from under payroll taxes — thus penalizing the Social Security and Medicare trust funds directly, and our elders indirectly. Congress did not make this decision, at least not directly; but since foreign students and their employers have privileges denied to citizens and green card holders alike, the bonus has been created.
In the current document, DHS proposes to extend the additional 17 months for STEM workers to 24 months; thus from a total period of 29 months to 36 months, about a 20 percent increase. If the bonus given to employers for hiring a STEM graduate is worth $10,000 under the old rules, it is now worth $12,000, and is that much more likely to cause an employer to hire a former F-1 student than a green card or citizen graduate.
This creates a problem at a time when you’re looking for a workforce that is better-trained in the fields that drive American industry. What you’re doing, however, is pushing the ones raised and trained at home out of the job market that we created these education initiatives for and handing those jobs to students who have no ties to the U.S. other than their education.
The program and its extension are not meant to make the U.S. a better place, both economically and academically. This program is meant to attract people to the U.S. to make it more “diverse” and that’s it. If you have people at home who are willing to do the work, why would you scorn their effort?