Trump says foreigners who graduate from US colleges should get green cards

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Trump holds a campaign event, in Racine

By Alexandra Ulmer and Gram Slattery

(Reuters) -Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a podcast released on Thursday said that students graduating from U.S. colleges should get a green card to stay in the country, a proposal that runs counter to his hardline immigration stance.

During the All-In podcast hosted by Silicon Valley tech investors, angel investor Jason Calacanis told Trump that the U.S. needs to be able to legally retain more high-skilled workers, a major issue for the tech industry.

"Can you please promise us you will give us more ability to import the best and brightest around the world to America?" Calacanis said.

"I do promise," Trump said. "But I happen to agree, otherwise I wouldn't promise... 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 and that includes junior colleges too."

A green card, also known as a permanent resident card, allows individuals the right to live and work permanently in the United States and is a step towards citizenship.

It was not clear if Trump was referring to all foreigners, including those who came to the United States illegally or overstayed their visas, or only those people on student visas.

Asked for comment, the Trump campaign said in a statement that only after "the most aggressive vetting process in U.S. history" would "the most skilled graduates who can make significant contributions to America" be able to stay.

The Biden campaign cast doubt on whether Trump would in fact enact the proposal he outlined on Thursday, given the hardline immigration stances he adopted during his 2017 to 2021 term.

"Every chance Donald Trump got in office, he made it his mission to rip apart immigrant families for his own political gain," said Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz.

"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."

Immigration advocates were also unconvinced by Trump's proposal.

"I almost have to laugh because his administration adopted multiple policies aiming to restrict student visas and make it harder for people to stay in the country after graduating," said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council.

During his presidency, Trump's administration took steps aimed at curbing U.S. companies' use of skilled foreign workers on H-1B visas, a key visa option for international students seeking to remain in the United States.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration tried to force tens of thousands of foreign students to leave the country if their schools held all classes online. Faced with lawsuits and strong opposition from colleges and universities, the administration later rescinded the order.

Trump has vowed a wide-ranging crackdown if reelected in the November election against Democrat Joe Biden, and has lambasted Biden's efforts to curb the record number of migrants crossing into the U.S. illegally.

Two of the All-In hosts, venture capitalists David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, hosted a swanky fundraiser for Trump in San Francisco earlier this month, raising some $12 million for his campaign.


During the interview, Trump ruled out committing U.S. troops to Ukraine.

"I would guarantee it," he said, when asked if he would pledge not to put boots on the ground there. "I wouldn't do it, no."

Trump also appeared skeptical of creating a pathway for NATO membership for Ukraine. The Biden administration supports Ukraine's eventual ascension into the mutual defense alliance.

On abortion rights, Trump said he would not support a federal ban, echoing previous comments.

(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Gram Slattery; additional reporting by Kristina Cooke and Ted Hesson; Editing by Anthony Esposito, Diane Craft and Nick Zieminski)