July 8

From Hardline to Higher Ed: Trump’s Surprising Immigration Shift

Attorney Sidebar

Immigrant Voices in Action


  • Retains Skilled Graduates
  • Boosts U.S. Economy
  • Attracts Global Talent
  • Supports Innovation


  • Complex Vetting Process
  • Potential Job Competition
  • Immigration Policy Shift
  • Implementation Uncertainty

Quick Fact:

In the 2022/2023 academic year, the United States hosted over 1 million international students, reflecting a strong rebound to pre-pandemic levels (source: IIE Open Doors Report, IIE Fall 2023 Snapshot).

In a notable shift in his immigration policy, former President Donald Trump has proposed issuing green cards to foreign nationals who graduate from American colleges.

This unexpected announcement marks a significant departure from his previous hardline stance on immigration and suggests a new approach to harnessing the potential of skilled immigrants who have received their education in the United States.

Trump Proposes Green Cards for U.S. College Graduates

During an episode of “The All-In Podcast,” hosted by tech investors David Sacks, Chamath Palihapitiya, David Friedberg, and Jason Calacanis. Trump highlighted the necessity of retaining skilled graduates within the country.

He stated, “If 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 policy would encompass graduates from junior colleges as well as those with doctoral degrees.

Retention of Talented Graduates

Trump voiced his frustration with graduates from prestigious U.S. institutions returning to their home countries and establishing successful ventures there.

“We push out the top graduates from our best schools. We need to attract and retain these talented people,” he said.

Clarification from Campaign Spokesperson

Following the podcast, Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Karoline Leavitt, explained that the proposed policy would include stringent vetting procedures. This would exclude individuals considered “communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters, and public charges.” Leavitt stressed that only highly skilled graduates capable of making significant contributions to the U.S. would qualify, ensuring they do not negatively impact American workers and wages.

Context of Immigration Policy

Immigration has been a central issue in Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, where he has promised a substantial domestic deportation operation. His remarks came after President Joe Biden’s executive order allowing certain undocumented family members of U.S. citizens to apply for permanent residency without leaving the country, aimed at appealing to Latino voters in key states.

Historical Context

Despite this new proposal, it is uncertain whether Trump would follow through if elected, considering his administration’s past restrictive immigration measures. During his presidency, Trump aimed to curb immigration through various methods, including tightening visa programs and advocating for a “Buy American, Hire American” policy. His administration also imposed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries and significantly reduced the number of refugees admitted.

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