24 Nov Tech industry sees mixed bag in Obama’s immigration plan
The U.S. tech industry has been fighting for reform of the country’s immigration system for years. On Thursday, President Obama gave the industry what they called welcomed help — but that’s not nearly all they want.
Fwd.us,, the immigration reform group spearheaded by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, celebrated the president’s broader moves to halt the deportation of million of immigrants in the United States. Steps to help high-tech foreign students and graduates work in the country longer are also encouraging, said the group’s acting president, Todd Schulte.
But “to be clear, these actions are no substitute for legislation,” Schulte said. “Fwd.us is proud to be part of this step forward, but we have lots of work to do.”
What exactly did Obama do on immigration policy? First, he has directed the Department of Homeland Security to begin expanding a popular program, Optional Practical Training, that allows foreign students and recent graduates who attended U.S. colleges to work in the country longer. The program already allows so-called STEM workers, those who specialize in science, technology, engineering and math, to stay in the country for an extended period, 29 months. Under Obama’s plan, those students and recent graduates would be able to stay longer and what is counted as a STEM worker could be broadened. The details will be worked out by DHS.
Acknowledging long-standing complaints that there is currently too little oversight of the OPT program, Obama called on DHS to ensure that colleges better manage the students and recent graduates who are participating in the program.