Trump is unlikely to accept all college graduates through immigration law

Donald Trump says he favors granting green cards to all foreign graduates of U.S. universities, despite his administration's record of blocking high-skilled immigrants. His comments in the podcast interview attracted widespread attention. During his four years as president, Trump never proposed increasing enrollment for college-educated immigrants or automatically granting green cards to all international students who graduate from U.S. universities. His administration has instituted numerous restrictions on H-1B visa holders and employment-based immigrants, including barring them from entering the country in 2020. Or seek to become a serious legislative initiative to grant green cards to all foreign graduates of U.S. universities.

podcast interview

On June 19, 2024, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recorded a podcast interview with a venture capitalist All-in. “What I want to do and what I'm going to do is you graduate from college, and I think as part of your diploma you should automatically get a green card to be able to stay in this country,” Trump said. “That includes junior college, anybody. It's all out of college. You go there for two or four years and Trump promises to fix this on “day one.”

In response to media attention, the Trump campaign released a statement from Press Secretary Carolyn Leavitt: “President Trump has outlined the most aggressive vetting process in American history to exclude all communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporter, American hater, and public accusation. He believes that only after such a review should we retain the most skilled graduates who can make a significant contribution to the United States. This applies only to the most thorough. Scrutinize college graduates and they will never lower American wages or the wages of workers.

Under current law, the federal government can block the admission of public charges, communist membership and terrorist sympathizers.

Trump’s record as president on high-skilled immigration

Donald Trump has often said he wants “merit-based” immigration, but while in office he and his team of appointees have shown little interest in admitting even the most skilled foreigners into the United States. His administration has launched what analysts see as a regulatory war against companies, international students and H-1B visa holders. (look here.)

H-1B visas are often the only practical way for highly skilled foreigners, including international students, to work permanently in the United States. Because of the time it takes to obtain an employment-based green card, foreign citizens must first obtain an H-1B visa or other temporary status.

After Donald Trump became president in 2017, his administration's policies significantly increased the denial rate for H-1B initial employment petitions, typically new hires that count toward the H-1B annual cap, to 24 in fiscal year 2018. % and 21% in fiscal 2019. In 2020, after a legal settlement forced USCIS to halt many of the Trump administration's practices, the denial rate dropped to 2%, close to the historical average.

In fiscal years 2018 and 2019, H-1B continued employment applications increased to 12%. As with initial employment petitions, legal settlements resulted in continued employment falling to 2% of H-1B petitions.

In his final year in office, Trump went further to block high-skilled temporary visa holders and employment-based immigrants from entering the United States. In June 2020, Trump used the power of Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to issue a proclamation suspending the entry of H-1B, L-1 and other temporary visa holders. A similar announcement in April 2020 banned entry to almost all categories of immigrants, including employment-based immigrants. No other president has used this power in such a comprehensive way.

Practical and political obstacles to Trump's declaration becoming law

If elected, Donald Trump is unlikely to pass legislation granting green cards to all foreign graduates of U.S. universities. His longtime immigration adviser Stephen Miller and others will almost certainly work to prevent such a proposal from becoming law. This is especially true because the policy could increase the number of immigrants in the United States by one million people a year. Miller has long campaigned to reduce legal immigration, including the admission of highly skilled foreigners. Through various executive restrictions, Miller reduced the number of immigrants admitted during Trump's presidency. He expressed admiration for the Immigration Act of 1924, which ended most immigration to the United States.

In 2017, after Trump struck a deal with Democratic congressional leaders to protect Dreamers — young people without legal status — in exchange for border security measures, media outlets reported that Miller and others sought to undermine the agreement. According to the report, “For weeks, the president's senior officials have been working behind the scenes to overturn the DACA agreement that President Trump reached with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.” daily beast. “Spearheading the behind-the-scenes impairment campaign is White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.”

According to the book Border War: Inside Trump's Attack on Immigration go through New York Times With the help of reporters Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear, Miller helped convince Trump to support Sen. Tom Cotton )’s RAISE Act, saying the bill would not reduce immigration. The bill cuts legal immigration by 50%.

If Trump's statement about providing green cards to foreign graduates of U.S. universities becomes a bill, Miller or other immigration opponents could kill it. The easiest way to do this is to tie passage to provisions that Democrats will never support, such as elements of HR 2, the Secure Border Act, which passed the House in May 2023 without a Democratic vote . That would encourage Democrats to block passage in the Senate by filibustering the bill. Another approach is to tie the proposal to other measures that Democrats oppose, such as eliminating all family-based immigration. There will also be Republicans who will oppose the measure. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) criticized Trump's announcement on green cards for college graduates.

In 2022, during negotiations for the CHIPS and Science Act, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) blocked an exemption from green card restrictions for many international graduate students in science and technology fields at U.S. universities. The provision, which has passed the House, is an important immigration reform but is softer than what Trump discussed in a podcast interview. Given his influence within the Republican caucus, the measure would likely have become law had Donald Trump publicly expressed his support at the time.

Trump is trying to please the podcast's venture capital hosts, one of whom hosted a fundraiser for him in Silicon Valley, which may explain the former president's rush to advocate for a sweeping immigration proposal. Trump's pledge to admit graduates from foreign universities came after podcast host Jason Calacanis asked him if he could commit to “giving us more ability to bring the best and brightest people in the world to the United States.” . Trump promised he would. People on social media pointed to Trump making similar remarks on August 18, 2015, when he tweeted, “When foreigners attend our great universities and want to stay in the United States, they should not be kicked out of the country. out of our country. As president, Donald Trump did not pursue this policy.

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