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Education Politics

Federal Judge Calls BS On Homeland Security's 2008 STEM 'Emergency' 142

theodp writes: In 2008, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security enacted 'emergency' changes to Optional Practical Training (OPT) to extend the amount of time foreign STEM graduates of US colleges could stay in the country and work ("to alleviate the crisis employers are facing due to the current H-1B visa shortage", as Bill Gates explained it in 2007). More than seven years later, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle has found that the government erred by not seeking public comment when it extended the program, and issued a ruling that could force tens of thousands of foreign workers on OPT STEM extensions to return to their home countries early next year. Huvelle has given the government six months to submit the OPT extension rule for proper notice and comment lest it be revoked. From the ruling (pdf): "By failing to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking, the record is largely one-sided, with input only from technology companies that stand to benefit from additional F-1 student employees, who are exempted from various wage taxes. Indeed, the 17-month duration of the STEM extension appears to have been adopted directly from the unanimous suggestions by Microsoft and similar industry groups." Microsoft declared a new crisis in 2012, this time designed to link tech's need for H-1B visas to U.S. children's lack of CS savvy.
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Federal Judge Calls BS On Homeland Security's 2008 STEM 'Emergency'

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  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @07:44AM (#50321701) Journal
    Great recession, almost a depression, crashing economy, loss of million jobs a month.. unemployment spiking over 10%... underemployment way past 16%... and they persisted this farce of 17 month additional OPT for STEM? It is corporatocracy, pure and simple.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      "unemployment spiking over 10%."

      You mean the government reported heavily adjusted to avoid panic numbers.

      Real unemployment was near 25% government reporting of unemployment only counted people that were actively collecting unemployment checks. If you were not being paid, you were not counted as unemployed. Some places Unemployment real numbers were closer to 35% to 40% Detroit for example.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Economy is so bad, they just changed how GDP is calculated. Q1 went from -2% to positive because of it, couldn't allow for another recession so they changed it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That is not true. The government determines the unemployment rate via a household survey, not via the number of people collecting unemployment checks. You may not believe the BLS because it sounds as if you have an axe to grind, but here's their [bls.gov] explanation of how they do it.

  • by jonsmirl ( 114798 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @07:59AM (#50321755) Homepage

    Prioritizing family reunification visas is worse. I know of two people that have used family reunification visas to bring in their parents. All four of which went onto Social Security and Medicare shortly after arriving. The US would have been much better off if those four slots had been given to STEM workers.

    • Do away with all the welfare handouts and this problem disappears. The real problem is too many government programs.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Absolutely! start with stopping all Corporate and Farming handouts.

        Also hospitals freaking welfare breeding grounds. Cut their funding as well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The problem isn't too many programs, it is too many mishandled expenses. I'd wager, that is run as well as a company with accountability, all the programs you seem to hate could run twice as well for the same cost.

        There is nothing wrong with assisting those with needs. The very idea is fundamental to a government, which should have the very explicit goal of "protecting its citizens." These protections go from international threats (wars, treaties, etc.) to protecting citizens from other citizens and themsel

        • nearly al those programs are for the benefit of the companies. Even health care is a way of addressing the cost to business of paying health insurance, now the taxpayer pays straight off and the insurance companies are happy.

          H1B has little to do with a skills shortage, its a way to help companies pay their staff much less and also to ignore training of existing staff. Microsoft could have retrained all those tech workers they laid off from Nokia, but they chose to sack them all and then complain about the l

        • by chihowa ( 366380 )

          I'd wager, that is run as well as a company with accountability, all the programs you seem to hate could run twice as well for the same cost.

          I'm not sure why this view of corporations persists. Companies minimize expenses in order to maximize profits. The cost of goods or services to the customers of a company has little bearing on the cost to the company of providing/producing those goods or services. The cost of a corporate provided service will be what the market can bear and in the case of a monopoly like the government, that cost will be extremely high. Costs (and corners) are cut for the sole purpose of maximizing profits.

          If the government

      • Family reunification should be something that an immigrant can accomplish on their own. If they want to reunite their family, they can return to their home country to be with their family.

      • Hear! Hear! Let's start with the oil subsidies, since Exxon Mobil is the second most profitable corporation in the Forbes 500 [fortune.com].
        • Agreed. But profitability or not is irrelevant. Both XOM and Iowa corn growers need to be removed from the taxpayer's teat.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure why this "they arrived here and immediately got Social Security" MYTH persists. Permanent Residents (green card holders) have work and pay into Social Security for a minimum of 10 years before being eligible for benefits.

      • The rules for this were more lax when they came about twenty years ago. I believe the work requirement was five years back them. They did get minimal type jobs helping out in businesses connected to the family (which I am fairly sure was done specifically to qualify for Social Security).. Their children more or less supported them during this period. Currently all four are receiving Social Security and Medicare and will probably do so for another decade. Pretty certain benefits being paid will be 10-20x wha

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @08:05AM (#50321775)

    1. Wages increase

    2. They bring in people on green cards for 5-10 years for any employer instead of this H1B nonsense where they bring people in with a leash around their figurative nuts and hand the nut leash to one company.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's funny how Silicon Valley hipsters love to mock conservatives over illegal immigration ("They took err jerrrbss!") but throw a big fit over H1Bs, which are exactly the same thing. But they're disadvantaged immigrants! Their rights trump yours, Whitey, remember that. Your own politics opened that door.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      I really don't see Silicon Valley hipsters doing that kind of whining. If anything, the Silicon Valley hipsters are more likely to be bleeding hearts. It's the midwestern tea bagger trailer trash that are most likely to whine about illegal immigrants as if they were within 1000 miles of one.

      • The tea baggers are all to the north, in San Francisco. But you already knew this. Their trash is in the dumpsters behind the bath houses. The dumpsters with the Biohazard stickers on them.

        Trailers? They're called tiny houses now.

      • I really don't see Silicon Valley hipsters doing that kind of whining. If anything, the Silicon Valley hipsters are more likely to be bleeding hearts. It's the midwestern tea bagger trailer trash that are most likely to whine about illegal immigrants as if they were within 1000 miles of one.

        Are you serious? You think there are no illegal aliens in the midwest? About 2% of the population of my state is illegal aliens, and that is only the ones we know about.

    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:20AM (#50322041) Homepage

      ...too early in the morning.

      What Silicon Valley hipsters are likely to object to are "indentured servant" visas. This is one problem with the low skill illegals actually. The situation helps create an underclass that can be easily abused.

      That's what H1Bs are for, they are a tool to abuse labor.

      I've always said that if a guy's talents are worth importing, then it's worth importing that guy as an EQUAL.

      None of this stupid indentured servant crap.

      • ...too early in the morning.

        What Silicon Valley hipsters are likely to object to are "indentured servant" visas. This is one problem with the low skill illegals actually. The situation helps create an underclass that can be easily abused.

        That's what H1Bs are for, they are a tool to abuse labor.

        I've always said that if a guy's talents are worth importing, then it's worth importing that guy as an EQUAL.

        None of this stupid indentured servant crap.

        Yeah tell yourself that and keep telling yourself that and you might even believe the hair you are trying to split matters. Hope you don't mind winding up living in shipping container in SF

        http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

      • I've always said that if a guy's talents are worth importing, then it's worth importing that guy as an EQUAL.

        The H1B program is not for hiring equals. It is for hiring people that are BETTER, because even when you offered infinity billion dollars as a salary, you were unable to find an American to do the job. It was never meant to hire people to do a job that any of 100,000 unemployed tech workers could easily do.

        • I've always said that if a guy's talents are worth importing, then it's worth importing that guy as an EQUAL.

          The H1B program is not for hiring equals. It is for hiring people that are BETTER, because even when you offered infinity billion dollars as a salary, you were unable to find an American to do the job. It was never meant to hire people to do a job that any of 100,000 unemployed tech workers could easily do.

          That's how it was sold, but not what it was meant for.

    • by Boronx ( 228853 )

      Silicon Valley hipsters want to make illegal immigrants legal so that they can get paid minimum wage.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 15, 2015 @08:40AM (#50321915)

    There is no shortage of tech workers. There is only a shortage of people willing to work at rates management wants. And these are not burger flipper jobs that can only sustain paying employees out of the $5 value menu gross proceeds. These are wildly profitable tech giants with billions in revenue.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:12AM (#50322009)

      Indeed. Something went very wrong after the last crisis was over: Companies continued to decrease STEM staff quality and wages paid, despite revenues being back to good and sometimes excellent. This has two effects, both catastrophic in the long run: 1.) fewer and fewer bright and capable people will go into STEM 2.) when the next crisis hits, companies will be a lot less able to deal with it, as they have systematically dumbed down their employee-pools. The only "positive" effects for the companies I see is even higher bonuses for even less deserving CEOs and the like.

      Somehow, they have completely forgotten that STEM is hard, it is what makes the modern world tick, and that good STEM workers are both critical for the long-term success of any tech company and hard to get.

      • by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @10:36AM (#50322263)
        American industry is systematically exporting their entire STEM industry, along with their manufacturing and science. Once it's gone the USA will not be able to afford to buy it back. Looks like they want the American economy to be built around banking/finance/investment/copyright. This is a bad idea because these are all "Luxury" industries, that always do poorly in a recession. If you build your economy around them then your country goes broke during a recession (even the rich would suffer).
        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          Unfortunately, the same is happening all over Europe. This might be the thing that brings about the end of the dominance of the western world. Well, stupidity and greed deserve their rewards, I guess.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:21AM (#50322049)
    Large companies are having real problems finding skilled people they can pay minimum wage and treat like chattel.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Rules just need to be enforced.

      At our company, every one of the H1B's make more than their co-workers by 10-20%. All of our H1B developers make $140k+ Some over 200k.
      Our H1B Graphic Designers are making $95k.

      If we are going to be spending thousands to do the paperwork, plus tens of thousands in training, we need to make sure they stay, all 6 years rather than transfer their H1B to another company.

      We went the H1B route, because there is a severe lack of Coders with creative skills. People who have Fine Ar

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        You went with H1B because they are cheaper than regular coders. I don't know where you are but 140k is below-average wage for good coders in most places.

        Not only are you profiting from the lower wages, you're also enjoying numerous tax breaks for hiring H1B's which brings down the TCO on said coders.

  • Sometimes the real issue is hidden as it is inflammatory by nature. What I suppose is going on is that in some other nations education is severe and demanding and fanatical. Students able to get advanced degrees in those nations tend to have superior educations by a wide margin. In other words a Ph.d. from some foreign nations may mean far greater abilities are present than a student trained in the US. economic competition is such that employers not only want these workers as they have to pay them less
    • I'm more inclined to think its the long game. If the bulk of the worlds smart people come to the United States, then how is the bad for the United States long-term?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You'd be wrong. A recent study by PEW (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/08/10/5-facts-about-americas-students/) showed that the U.S. was near the middle when it came to math and science scores. However, one thing these studies always fail to consider is that the U.S. has a large contingent of minorities who consistently do poorly. Factor out those underperformers and the U.S. suddenly becomes very, very competitive on the world scene.

      And since we're talking about technology jobs, it is entirely fai

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @09:34AM (#50322081)
    that right when the entire US economy was imploding in 2008 and my life was going to shit because of it that several thousand more foreign workers were allowed to stay in this country. I was wondering why Bernie Sanders has been doing so well in the polls. As always vote left. Vote for the most left leaning candidate you can get your hands on. You can bet we'll have fewer judges when Jeb is in the Whitehouse...
    • Idea for a movie title, and game? "The Pruge, at the H1B Contractor compound."

      I'd watch it on pay-per-view.
    • Left leaning candidates will happily ruin the nation, because the worse things are, the more justifications for radical policies. Who wants to open the borders wide and let the entire world into America, with voting rights the moment they set foot on our soil? The left. Are you saying that Bernie is going to expel the foreigners and thereby create several million new jobs for Americans? Jeez that's some serious Nazi shit right there.

      Why don't you ask people who used to live in hard left regimes how th

      • You mean like going to war over intelligence we know is bad for ideological reasons? Or tapping every phone in the country? Or diverting funds from a major US city's levies for the aforementioned war. I could go on you know....
      • Left leaning candidates will happily ruin the nation, because the worse things are, the more justifications for radical policies. Who wants to open the borders wide and let the entire world into America, with voting rights the moment they set foot on our soil? The left. Are you saying that Bernie is going to expel the foreigners and thereby create several million new jobs for Americans? Jeez that's some serious Nazi shit right there.

        Why don't you ask people who used to live in hard left regimes how they feel about the kind of government you advocate? What do you think they would say?

        You speak of AUTHORITARIAN LIBERALS, however Senator Sanders is a LIBERTARIAN LIBERAL.

        Authoritarians of ALL stripes are usually pretty terrible, not that libertarian liberals or libertarian conservatives can't do bad work either.

        Political compass explains libertarians and authoritarians better. [politicalcompass.org]

  • I casually state, "We just contracted a software project to some guys in Kenya, we needed the best and brightest. The project came in on time and on budget. And because of that, I got my bonus. I think next week I'll give them another project."

    Works every time.
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      OK some questions:
      What is the quality of the software and documentation they delivered like compared to what you would have gotten if it had been done in-house?
      What about the ongoing availability and cost of support for their software now it has been delivered?
      Is the cost of all the extra time, support, education/training, project management, trips etc that you/your company had to do because they are external/remote also factored into your total cost?
      Did you also calculate the cost of doing it in-house? If

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        ...and dont forget to include your bonus in the actual total cost.

      • Actually, the project passed BDD, the doc's needed 8th some grade grammer checking. Client was pleased. It's not that americans can't do it, they can't do it on 8 cents to the dollar. Indians charge 10 cents; a little to rich for my wallet.
  • This sounds like the administrative law folks decided, hey, you didn't follow proper procedure on this thing you did, go back and check the boxes on your paperwork. It doesn't sound like they are actually saying what they did was wrong or right. If they go back and check the boxes for public comment and still do what they did anyway, nothing changes. H1B1 is a complex subject on one hand, I like the fact that we do end up helping start up economies that were stagnate and had a low standard of living raisin
  • by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Saturday August 15, 2015 @12:15PM (#50322669)

    There's nothing wrong with giving foreigners who just graduated from an American college the chance to stay and work. These are people who competed to get into school and won, had the money to pay for it, and then learned more at the school. These are precisely the folks we want to stay here.

    This should be extended to graduates with good grades in all disciplines, not dialed back.

    The real problem is H1Bs and the difficulty in getting a green card. It's the indentured servitude nature of the immigration-work-model which allows companies to pay less and force down American wages. We should provide enough protection to foreign workers that they can tell an employer to shove it.

    People can apply for work visas if they have something to offer, and they can come and help pay for our college system and prove that they can work VERY hard and learn fast via the school-visa program. We should embrace everybody coming in on that path. H1Bs are simply destructive.

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