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Trump green card proposal for foreign grads of U.S. colleges draws mixed reviews

Trump proposes green cards for college grads seeking to stay in America

Donald Trump recently said foreign graduates of American universities should automatically be eligible for a green card, a proposal from the Republican presidential candidate that’s been met with mixed reviews from his base.

Former President Trump made his comments June 20 on the podcast “All-In,” which covers topics such as the economy, technology, and politics. Political observers said the policy favors businesses and the economy while it frustrates border hawks.

The pro-free market editorial board at The Wall Street Journal praised the suggestion, arguing in a staff editorial the U.S. “doesn’t train enough native engineers and scientists in particular, given the decades-long failure of public K-12 education.”

“The U.S. needs foreign talent to compete with China, which is sprinting ahead in many high-tech and scientific areas that will determine who leads the world in the future,” the conservative newspaper of record stated in a June 23 editorial.

But Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, called it a “a cockamamie proposal” in a June 21 statement to the New York Post, suggesting it would release a “firehose of foreign cash” into universities by “stapling a green card to the diploma.”

And Jeremy Beck, vice president of NumbersUSA, which advocates for restricting immigration, echoed similar sentiments, telling the Washington Post: “You’d turn colleges into visa mills.”

Eric Ruark, director of research at NumbersUSA, added the proposal would hurt U.S. citizens.

“It would add hundreds of thousands of additional people to the labor market every year, and that’s going to put a downward pressure on wages,” he said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The College Fix.

Ruark said the proposal would also increase competition between American college applicants and foreigners, because foreign students tend to pay for tuition at full-cost.

“This is not a good idea when it comes to setting up a system that benefits Americans,” Ruark said. He pointed out that, on the podcast, Trump “was speaking to a crowd of Silicon Valley CEOs,” and more importantly, potential “donors.”

The pro-immigration California Immigrant Policy Center did not respond to a request from The College Fix seeking comment.

The debate sprang forth from the podcast interview June 20 during which host Jason Calicanis asked if Trump would “promise us you will give more ability to import the best and brightest around the world to America.”

“I do promise,” Trump replied, adding the U.S. loses many talented foreign college graduates because they often must return to their home country, such as China, he said.

“It’s so sad when we lose people from Harvard, MIT, from the greatest schools— and lesser schools that are phenomenal also,” Trump said.

In 2020 and 2021, 4.6 percent of college students were foreign, 35 percent of whom came from China. Another 18 percent came from India, according to the Pew Research Center.

A green card, or Permanent Resident Card, allows non-U.S. citizens to permanently work and reside in the country. Currently, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, refugees and asylum-seekers can qualify for a green card. A green card may also be obtained by migrant workers or through a green card lottery, called the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Some observers have questioned whether Trump would indeed work to enact such a policy if elected.

“During four years as president, Trump never proposed increasing the admission of college-educated immigrants or awarding automatic green cards to all international students graduating from U.S. universities,” Forbes reported June 23. “His administration enacted numerous restrictions on H-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrants, including prohibiting their entry in 2020.”

But in a statement released shortly after the podcast aired, Trump’s campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt said: “President Trump has outlined the most aggressive vetting process in U.S. history, to exclude all communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters and public charges. 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.”

Hillary Clinton discussed a similar proposal in 2016 after stating she would “staple” a green card to foreign college graduates’ diplomas if the graduate received a masters or PhD in science or technology.

On the podcast, Trump also discussed his plans to strengthen border security, and criticized the flow of migrants through the southern border under President Joe Biden’s term.

“We have been overrun, it’s an invasion of our country,” Trump said. “Many people come out of jails and prisons, they come out of mental institutions, insane asylums, and we have terrorists coming into our country at a level we have never seen before.”

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Emma Verrigni is a student at Hillsdale College studying history and journalism. She is involved in the student newspaper on campus and has also written for The American Spectator. In her free time she practices martial arts and goes to the gym.