Trump floats green cards for noncitizen college graduates

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump suggested in a podcast released Thursday that non-citizens in the U.S. should “automatically” get green cards when graduating from college.

“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,” Trump said. “And that includes junior colleges, too.”

Trump had made similar comments during during his 2016 campaign, only to limit legal migration when he was in office.

Trump’s answer on the podcast came in response to a comment from one of the podcast hosts, who said that “we need high skilled workers in this country.” Another chimed in, noting that three of the four hosts are immigrants.

“Can you please promise us you will give us more ability to import the best and brightest around the world to America?” a host asked, prompting Trump’s green card response.

Trump said he did promise that, adding that it was “so sad when we lose people from Harvard, MIT, from the greatest schools, and lesser schools that are phenomenal schools also.”

NBC News has reached out to the Trump campaign for further comment on his position.

The former president’s comments came moments after Trump repeated his frequent unfounded claim that migrants crossing the southern border into the U.S. are coming from jails, prisons, mental institutions and insane asylums. He also asserted without evidence that “we have terrorists coming into our country at a level that we’ve never seen before.”

During a 2016 Republican primary debate, Trump said “we need highly skilled people in this country” when asked about visas for highly skilled workers.

“They’ll go to Harvard. They’ll go to Stanford. They’ll go to Wharton. As soon as they’re finished, they get shoved out,” Trump said in March 2016. “They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately. They’re not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country.”

However, during Trump’s time in the Oval Office, visa denials and extensions increased, making it more difficult for some non-citizen workers to stay in the U.S.

In 2019, Trump laid out a merit-based legal immigration system to prioritize highly-skilled migrants. But in 2020, Trump also signed an executive order which froze new visas for foreign workers.

Now campaigning for another term, Trump often makes anti-migrant rhetoric a centerpiece of his campaign speeches.

Trump has compared migrants to Hannibal Lecter from the movie “The Silence of the Lambs.” He has asserted that migrants coming to the U.S. are “poisoning the blood of our country,” rhetoric that the Biden campaign has compared to Adolf Hitler’s. Last month, he asserted without evidence that migrants are bringing “very contagious disease.”

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