8 Jun 2017
Washington, D.C.

The accounting industry is lobbying to be included with ‘STEM’ fields to get in on a foreign worker scheme that predates the Trump Administration.

In a Wall Street Journal report, the newspaper explains how major accounting firms are now asking Congress to include them in the definition of what is typically known as the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – so they can hire foreigners instead of Americans.

Currently, accounting firms can hire newly-graduated foreign workers under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for one year. But, the accounting industry is asking that they be allowed to hire those foreign workers for three years, while paying no payroll taxes.

Center for Immigration Studies Fellow David North argues:

The hidden subsidy relates to the fact that OPT defines the alumni as students (with F-1 visas) and as such they are not covered by payroll taxes. This means that an accounting firm that paid an OPT worker at $80,000 a year for three years would save $18,360 over the three years if it hired an alien as opposed to an American or legal permanent resident at the same basic pay rate.

With both the employer and the worker saving $18,360 each over the three years, this means a combined loss to the Social Security and Medicare Trust funds of $36,720 in that time period. This is a subject never mentioned by employers

According to data by Economic Policy Institute (EPI) scholar Dan Costa, in 2013 there were 139,155 OPT foreign workers employed in the U.S.

North told Breitbart Texas that because the program has ballooned in recent years, he figures the number of OPT foreign workers in the U.S. are now along the lines of 200,000 or more.

“If there are, indeed, 200,000 of [the OPT foreign workers], and if each is paid $70,000 a year that’s a gross payroll of $14 billion a year, and a loss to the trust funds of $2.142 billion,” North told Breitbart Texas. “If the average pay is $50,000 a year, which I think is low, the loss to the trust funds is still $1.530 billion a year.”

“We should think thrice before expanding such a program,” North continued.

As the Journal pointed out, nearly 82,000 students obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting in the 2013 to 2014 U.S. school year. But, less than 43,500 of those students got jobs in accounting after graduation, showing that there is no need accounting worker shortage.

North said that because Congress did not actually create the OPT program, rather former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama helped construct it, the Trump Administration or Congress could step in and end the foreign worker program altogether.

“I’m not sure that either one of those things are likely to happen,” North said.