As reported in this blog previously, President Obama’s administration recently expanded the number of STEM programs that make OPT available for 29 months. This expansion bypassed Congress and was issued without notice and comment or any other rulemaking procedure. Senator Grassley has called for an investigation into the STEM OPT program. He claims that the expanded program hurts US grads and undermines US security. Although his challenge based upon US security concerns is nothing more than fanning the flames of extremists, clearly a core constituency of the Sentor’s, his claim that the expanded program fails to provide protection of US workers has merit and needs careful consideration. If in fact, rulemaking procedures had been follwed, as dictated by the APA, this expansion could’ve been carefully considered by all stakeholders. It has become a consistent practice of this administration to issue new “rules” eg. the 2010 Neufeld memo changing the definition of an employer/employee in the H-1b context and the more subtle yet no less impactful change of the definition of specialized knowledge in the L-1b context. What is ironic is that Senator Grassley engineered the new rules in the H-1b and L-1b context and yet has the audacity to now complain about the failure to follow proper protocol. It appears that the proper protocol only needs to be followed when he disagrees with the rule being issued. Frankly, I think all of he new rules discussed above would be better rules if the proper procedures had been follwed. I may not like the ultimate result any better but, there is something to be said for careful consideration instead of dictatorial edict whether that dictator is a Senator or an Executive Administration official.