Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C., February 10, 2011.

Speaking on the podcast All In last Friday, Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said, “What I wanted 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.”

A Green Card, a.k.a a permanent resident card, is an identity document showing that its holder has permanent residency in the United States. Green Card holders are formally known as lawful permanent residents (LPRs). There are an estimated 14 million Green Card holders, of whom more than 9 million are eligible to become United States citizens. An estimated 20,000 serve in the US Armed Forces.


Trump’s campaign heavily emphasizes immigration as a central issue. He frequently criticizes existing visa programs, alleging widespread misuse. In his rhetoric about unauthorized immigrants, Trump often employs harsh and controversial language, portraying them as a collective threat to public safety and national security. He has characterized this group as being predominantly composed of dangerous individuals, including those he claims are criminals, terrorists, and carriers of disease, as well as those with mental health issues.

Trump has even suggested using military resources to implement a large-scale deportation plan. This strategy would involve extensive search and apprehension operations, as well as the establishment of detention facilities to hold those awaiting deportation proceedings.

Back in 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised to launch a “start-up” visa and staple Green Card for foreigners who achieve master’s and PhD degrees in science and technology.

The substantial influx of Indian students to US universities, particularly in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), positioned them as potential major beneficiaries of Hillary Clinton’s proposed immigration policy, and now Trump’s policy. With more than 100,000 Indian students enrolling annually, they form the largest group of international STEM students in the United States.

Clinton’s plan included support for ‘start-up’ visas, aimed at attracting top global entrepreneurs to the US. These visas would enable foreign innovators to establish companies in technology-oriented sectors with global reach, potentially creating more jobs and opportunities for Americans.

Clinton’s proposed visa program would have had specific requirements. Aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs would need to secure financial backing from US investors before visa approval. Additionally, to be eligible for a green card, they would be required to create a specified number of jobs and meet certain performance criteria. This policy could provide a pathway for many skilled Indian graduates to transition from student status to becoming entrepreneurs and potential long-term contributors to the US economy.

Back in 2015 and 2016, Trump also supported Green Cards for college graduates. But the proposal was attacked by immigration hard-liners in Trump’s camp, including Breitbart and Trump’s AG-to-be Jeff Sessions. Last Friday, Breitbart’s founder Steve Bannon, a devoted Trump supporter, attacked his Green Cards to college graduates idea, telling Newsweek, “Simple: They leave the country and go home immediately after graduation.”

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