Trump proposes giving green cards to all noncitizen college graduates. His campaign says only after they are vetted


(WASHINGTON) — Former President Donald Trump’s campaign on Friday clarified his immigration proposal to give green cards to all noncitizen college students who graduate from American universities, arguing there would be an “aggressive vetting process.”

“He believes, only after such vetting has taken place, we ought to keep the most skilled graduates who can make significant contributions to America,” Karoline Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in a statement to ABC News on Friday. “This would only apply to the most thoroughly vetted college graduates who would never undercut American wages or workers.”

Leavitt went on to say, “radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters” would be excluded from Trump’s proposed plan.

Trump deviated from his usual anti-immigrant rhetoric and advocated for “automatically” giving noncitizens in the U.S. green cards when they graduate from college — not just people who go through the vetting process, he said in an episode of the “All In” podcast that was released on Thursday.

“[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. That includes junior colleges, too,” Trump said in the episode, which was taped on Wednesday.

“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,” he continued.

The Biden campaign responded to Trump’s comments, saying the former president is making an “empty promise.”

“Trump’s empty promise is both a lie and an insult, especially to the countless people that have been permanently damaged by his first-term in office,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said.

Trump’s response came after one of the hosts, Jason Calacanis, asked Trump if he could promise to “give us more ability to import the best and brightest around the world to America.”

On the campaign trail, Trump has frequently disparaged undocumented immigrants, labeling them as violent criminals who are stealing jobs, resources and housing away from American citizens as he vows at almost every campaign stop to lead the largest deportation operation if reelected.

His comments seemed to be an attempt to further court the Silicon Valley businessmen, three of whom are immigrants, and the broader tech industry, which heavily relies on work visas for employment.

David Sacks, one of the podcast hosts, asked if he would expand H-1B work visa for tech workers after fixing the border — to which Trump said “yes,” going on to complain that “highly skilled people” were leaving the United States due to immigration issues.

“Somebody graduates at the top of the class, they can’t even make a deal with the company because they don’t think they’re going to be able to stay in the country. That is going to end on Day 1,” Trump said.

“It’s so sad when we lose people from Harvard, MIT, from the greatest schools,” he added.

Trump’s various personal businesses have frequently hired foreign workers, including using the H-2B visa program that allows American companies to hire low-wage foreign nonagricultural workers to hire workers at Mar-a-Lago during the “Palm Beach season,” he said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in 2016. Trump, however, has criticized the program for taking jobs away from Americans.

In the past, Trump advocated for merit-based immigration plans, signing the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which sought to award business visas to high-skilled workers.

“You need a pool of people to work for your companies. You have great companies and have to be smart people. Not everybody can be less than smart. You need brilliant people,” Trump said on the podcast.

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