Trump pledges green cards for college grads, reviving a Hillary Clinton idea

trump pledges green cards for college grads, reviving a hillary clinton idea

Trump pledges green cards for college grads, reviving a Hillary Clinton idea

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump said foreign-born college graduates should automatically be authorized to stay and work in the United States — a position once championed by former rival Hillary Clinton and at odds with his usually restrictive stance on immigration.

“What I wanted 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,” Trump said in an interview on a podcast titled “All-In” released today. A green card is the colloquial term for legal permanent residency.

Trump went on to specify that he would apply the policy to anyone attending a two- or four-year college.

The proposal would be a major departure from Trump’s usual stance on immigration issues and current policy. Presently, those on foreign student visas have the option to stay for one to three years, depending on their major, through a program called Optional Practical Training. More than 340,000 people held work authorizations through the program in 2023, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Trump previously expressed support in 2015 for green cards for college graduates. But the idea was more widely associated with Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, whose campaign website said she would “staple” a green card to master’s and doctoral diplomas in science, technology, engineering and math. The proposal was attacked by immigration hard-liners in Trump’s camp, including the far-right website Breitbart and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who became Trump’s attorney general.

“The staple-green-card idea is to take the existing system and put it on steroids,” Jeremy Beck, vice president of NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for restricting immigration, said on Thursday. “You’d turn colleges into visa mills,” he said, driving up tuition costs and increasing competition for admission and jobs with domestic students.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt clarified Trump’s comments by saying that graduates would be screened for “communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters and public charges” before receiving green cards.

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

Immigration is one of the dominant issues of Trump’s campaign. He often accuses people of abusing visa programs and frequently uses vilifying and dehumanizing language to describe unauthorized immigrants, describing them categorically as dangerous criminals, terrorists, diseased and mentally ill. He has proposed deploying the military to carry out a mass deportation operation, including the use of large-scale roundups and detention camps.

Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview, Trump returned to exaggerated portrayals of crime in U.S. cities, often referencing those with large minority populations.

Of Oakland, Calif., Trump said, “Nobody lives there except for criminals.” Violent crime has fallen 33 percent this year compared with the same period in 2023 in the city of 430,000 people, with a 17 percent decrease in homicides and a 21 percent decrease in assaults with firearms.

Trump said he would achieve better education results by cutting federal funding in half. “We’re going to give them approximately half the number of dollars and they’re going to have so much money that like they’ve never had before because they can spend a fraction of what we’re spending right now and have much better school systems,” he said.

Trump has previously proposed abolishing the U.S. Department of Education, without specifying what would happen to its discretionary budget of more than $78 billion, most of which funds grants for local agencies to serve disadvantaged or disabled students on financial aid or loan subsidies for college students.

On Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Trump blamed U.S. allies in NATO for causing the conflict. “For 20 years, I heard that NATO, if Ukraine goes into NATO, it’s a real problem for Russia,” he said. “I think that’s really why this war started.”

When one of the podcast hosts told Trump that French President Emmanuel Macron has discussed sending troops to Ukraine, Trump responded with apparent sarcasm: “I wish them a lot of luck.” Macron has held open the possibility of sending NATO troops to Ukraine but said the current situation doesn’t require it. He has floated sending military trainers to western Ukraine, away from combat.

Hayden Godfrey and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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