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June 23, 2024 3 min read

Former President Donald Trump proposed “automatically” giving green cards to foreign nationals who graduate from a US college – comments that break from his efforts to curb both legal and illegal immigration while in office and stand in stark contrast to his inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric on the campaign trail.

“What I want to do, and what I will do, is you graduate from a college, I think you should get automatically, as part of your diploma, a green card to be able to stay in this country,” the presumptive GOP nominee said on “The All-In Podcast,” which aired Thursday.


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He continued, “And that includes junior colleges too. Anybody graduates from a college — you go in there for two years or four years. If you graduate, or you get a doctorate degree from a college, you should be able to stay in this country.”

Trump made the comments on a podcast whose hosts included prominent tech venture capitalists David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, who recently hosted a fundraiser for Trump in San Francisco. Trump was responding to another one of the podcast hosts, investor Jason Calacanis, who asked the former president, “Can you please promise us you will give us more ability to import the best and brightest from around the world to America?”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said that graduates would be screened “to exclude all communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters and public charges.”


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“He believes, only after such vetting has taken place, we ought to keep the most skilled graduates who can make significant contributions to America. This would only apply to the most thoroughly vetted college graduates who would never undercut American wages or workers,” Leavitt said in a statement to CNN.

Trump has made immigration a central focus of his 2024 bid for the White House, promising to carry out “the largest domestic deportation operation in American history” and using the issue to attack President Joe Biden’s leadership. His latest comments come after Biden earlier this week announced an executive action allowing certain undocumented spouses and children of US citizens to apply for lawful permanent residency without leaving the country. The election-year move from the president, intended to appeal to key Latino voters in battleground states, followed a more restrictive action earlier this month to limit asylum processing at the US southern border.

Trump on the podcast complained that some foreign graduates of top US colleges cannot start companies in the US and instead found their companies in other countries like India or China.

“You need a pool of people to work for your companies and they have to be smart people. … You need brilliant people and we force the brilliant people, the people that graduate from college, the people that are number one in their class from the best colleges. You have to be able to recruit these people and keep the people,” the former president said.

Trump’s remarks are at odds with his efforts to limit immigration when he was in the White House, including targeting visa programs that tech companies use to bring in thousands of skilled workers and directing federal agencies to employ what he called a “Buy American, Hire American” strategy to promote the hiring of American workers. Trump also tried to restrict refugee resettlement and temporarily banned travel from seven Muslim majority countries while in office.

In his third presidential run, Trump regularly stokes fears about undocumented migrants, claiming without evidence the vast majority are violent criminals as he rails against Biden’s immigration policies. His language – including saying that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country” – has often drawn rebuke from his opponent’s campaign.

When Trump ran for president in 2015, he expressed support for some foreign nationals graduating from US colleges having a pathway to citizenship.

“I also want people of great talent to come to this country, to Silicon Valley for engineers. If you go to Harvard and you graduate No. 1 in your class, and you’re from China, they send you home, you can’t get back into the country. So you end up working for companies in China and fighting us,” Trump said in an interview with Time magazine.

Source: CNN - Trump says he wants foreign nationals who graduate from US colleges to ‘automatically’ receive green cards

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