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Trump stuns immigration world by promising green cards to all foreign students

WASHINGTON: Former US President Donald Trump convulsed the immigration eco-system on Thursday by promising automatic green cards to all foreign students in America, including undergraduates, in what would be a repudiation of the strong anti-immigration sentiment of his political base.
In a podcast with Silicon Valley investors and business leaders, Trump spoke of “stories where people graduated from a top college or from a college, and they desperately wanted to stay here, they had a plan for a company, a concept, and they can’t — they go back to India, they go back to China, they do the same basic company in those places.

Pledging to change this, the former President said he would institute policies where "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.”
There was immediate blowback to the Trump announcement, with his supporters questioning "is this America First?" and what happened to “buy American, hire American?” 

But hours after the former President's unscripted remarks, his campaign officials tempered the comments, saying there would be an “aggressive vetting process” that would “exclude all communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters and public charges” and that the policy would apply only to the “most skilled graduates who can make significant contributions to America.”

That would still open the doors to tens of thousands of skilled immigrants, mainly from India and China, who come to the US for higher education. By some estimates, more than a million foreign students come to the US every year; and at any given time nearly 300,000 students from India -- now said to be the largest contingent of foreign students -- are studying at American universities and colleges. More than a million Indian college graduates already in the US, going back 10 to 15 years, have been in line for a green card, which typically paves the way for citizenship.

In the "All-In" podcast hosted by David Sacks, a Silicon Valley investor who backs the former president’s 2024 campaign, Trump appeared to be courting -- at the risk of angering his voting base -- the tech business community which has long sought to streamline the immigration process to get more high-skilled workers who come to America as students and graduate into H1-B visas that allows limited stay in the US. But Trump's nativist MAGA (Make American Great Again) base sees this as a betrayal of American workers.

During Trump presidency, his advisor Stephen Miller, fashioned an immigration policy that restricted among other things work-visa program for foreign students even though the then President often spoke of giving permanent residency to immigrants who are wealthy and/or highly educated, at the expense of family-based immigration that also allows non-skilled or low-skilled immigrants to get a green card on the basis of family ties.

Read More : Timesofindia