Trump Says He Would Give Green Cards to Foreign College Students After Graduation

Donald J. Trump said he would push for a program that would automatically give green cards to foreign college students in America after they graduate, a reversal from restrictions he enacted as president on immigration by high-skilled workers and students to the United States.

Appearing with the host David Sacks, a Silicon Valley investor who backs the former president’s 2024 campaign, on a podcast that aired Thursday, Mr. Trump repeated his frequent criticism of high levels of immigration as an “invasion of our country.” He was then pressed by Jason Calacanis, another investor who hosts the podcast, to “promise us you will give us more ability to import the best and brightest around the world to America.”

“I do promise, but I happen to agree,” Mr. Trump said, adding “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, and that includes junior colleges.”

Mr. Trump suggested that he had wanted to enact such a policy while in office but “then we had to solve the Covid problem.” The Trump administration invoked the pandemic to enact many of the immigration restrictions that officials had wanted to put in place earlier in Mr. Trump’s term.

Mr. Trump also lamented “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. And they become multibillionaires.”

Mr. Trump’s comments stood in contrast to the immigration policy he adopted while in office and were a direct overture to wealthy business leaders whom he is courting as donors and supporters of his campaign. Mr. Sacks hosted a fund-raiser this month for the former president in San Francisco, the beating heart of the liberal tech industry, that raised about $12 million for Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Mr. Trump had at times sought to reform the nation’s immigration system to scale back family-based immigration and to prioritize immigrants who were wealthy, who had valuable work skills or who were highly educated.

But during his term as president, Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda included restrictions on green cards, visa programs, refugee resettlement and other forms of legal immigration, significantly reducing the number of lawful permanent residents entering the country.

He began his presidency by signing an executive order that banned travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries and later embraced a proposal to cut legal immigration by half. Throughout his presidency, Mr. Trump assailed the H-1B visa program, favored by tech companies as a way to hire foreign skilled workers, as a “theft of American prosperity.”