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Trump Administration Weighs Suspending Program for Foreign Students

By NBC News

May 19, 2020

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At the direction of the White House, the Department of Homeland Security has sent recommendations for further restricting legal immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one former and two current administration officials.

Among the recommendations expected to be considered is the suspension of a program for foreign students to stay in the U.S. to get one or two years of occupational training between secondary education and full-time employment, a move many in the business and university communities are fighting.

The program, known as Optional Practical Training, or OPT, is an incentive for foreign students to come to U.S. universities, as it provides some cushion between school and employment. Talk of suspending OPT has pitted business interests against immigration hard-liners like President Donald Trump's senior adviser Stephen Miller, the officials said.

Miller, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have all said the program has been rife with abuses, particularly by Chinese students whom they accuse of getting American educations and then returning to China. Data from the Congressional Research Service, however, shows otherwise.


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