Tweets of travel bans reverberate through deserted terminals. Consequences of visa cancellations echo in desolate embassies. Murmurs of work permit suspensions linger in empty dorms. For the more than 1 million foreign students in the United States, this threatened suspension would be devastating. I know this because I used to be one. Being an immigration attorney also makes me acutely aware of the turmoil this would cause.
Every year, foreign students flock to America in droves. They come for the world-class education, the ground-breaking research and the multicultural environment. The post-graduation work permit is a further draw. It is this work permit — known as Optional Practical Training — that now appears to be on the Trump administration’s chopping block to reduce immigration.
In a recent letter to the president, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley and Josh Hawley called for the suspension of OPT, claiming there is “no reason” to allow these foreign graduates to apply for work permits. Ethical considerations aside, there is a plethora of economic evidence to support retaining the OPT program for current and future international students.
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