Give minorities in STEM fields a chance to find work: stop the OPT program!

Silicon Valley has a diversity problem. College-educated African-Americans in STEM fields continue to lose jobs while their white counterparts are starting to see gains. Why is there a government program to give employers a discount for not hiring these unemployed Americans?

The OPT program (or “Optional Practical Training”) gives employers who hire foreign students a pass on paying FICA or Medicare taxes. This adds a financial incentive to bypass domestic workers, including the 36,000 African-American software developers who lost jobs in May. Or the 40,000 black college grads who lost medical manufacturing jobs.

“Layoffs in the tech industry are troubling because tech firms already had a diversity issue,” according to an article by Pew (“Black Professionals Miss Out on Recent Job Gains,” June 22, 2020).

The government can’t pretend that offering employers a tax break to not hire Americans doesn’t create a perverse incentive to deny opportunities to our fellow Americans. I’m counting on you to end the destructive and discriminatory OPT program.

Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA