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Trump Vs. Biden: Blueprints for America’s Immigration Future

What is the difference between Trump and Biden's plans for US Immigration Policy

Former President Donald Trump has recently proposed a significant shift in his immigration policy, advocating for automatically giving green cards to all non-citizens who graduate from a US college or university. This proposal marks a notable change from his previously stringent stance on immigration, suggesting a more open approach towards retaining highly skilled individuals trained in American universities. As Trump campaigns for the 2024 presidential election, this policy proposal could be a key component of a broader, future immigration reform plan aimed at addressing critical skills shortages in various industries and enhancing the U.S. workforce.


During Trump’s presidency, he was known for implementing restrictive immigration policies, including travel bans, and stringent visa regulations. His administration also sought to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, reduce refugee admissions, and significantly cut the number of H-1B visas granted, which affected many high-skilled foreign workers. These measures reflected a hardline approach aimed at reducing both legal and illegal immigration.

In contrast, Trump’s new proposal recognizes the valuable contributions that international students can make to the U.S. economy and technological advancements. The idea is to allow these graduates to stay and work in the country, leveraging their education and skills acquired in American institutions to bolster the domestic workforce. Trump’s new proposal significantly diverges from his earlier positions on immigration. His presidency was characterized by efforts to reduce immigration through policies such as the travel ban, increased ICE enforcement, and a general tightening of visa regulations.


Trump’s proposal to grant green cards to non-citizen U.S. college graduates would create a straightforward path to permanent residency, potentially boosting the U.S. economy. International students contribute approximately $41 billion annually and are more likely to start businesses and innovate compared to U.S.-born counterparts.

In this context, Trump’s green card proposal aims to enhance the U.S.’s competitiveness in attracting and retaining global talent. By offering a clear and stable route to residency, the policy could encourage more international students to choose U.S. universities, knowing they have a viable future in the country post-graduation. This shift not only aligns with economic needs but also represents a strategic pivot in immigration policy, acknowledging the crucial role of skilled immigrants in maintaining U.S. economic and technological leadership on the global stage.


Countries like Canada, the UK, and Germany offer post-study work visas and paths to residency, making them attractive for international students. For example, Canada’s work permit allows up to three years of work post-graduation with paths to permanent residence, while Germany provides an 18-month job search permit leading to the EU Blue Card.


Since taking office President Joe Biden has overturned many of Trump’s orders and put forward comprehensive reforms, including pathways to citizenship for DACA recipients. His proposed parole in place (PIP) policy focuses on family reunification and humanitarian concerns. Biden aims for thorough reform to tackle broader immigration issues, encompassing undocumented immigrants, asylum seekers, and temporary workers striving to balance economic benefits with humanitarian considerations.


To enact such a policy, Trump would need the authority typically vested in the President through the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA provides the legal framework for immigration policy in the United States and grants the executive branch considerable discretion in determining eligibility for various visa categories and green cards. Specifically, the President can influence immigration policy through executive orders, directives to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and adjustments to administrative procedures that govern visa and green card issuance. Additionally, collaboration with Congress would be essential to pass any legislative changes required to implement this new green card provision comprehensively​.


The immigration policies proposed recently by Trump and Biden highlight a stark contrast in their approaches to immigration reform. Trump’s proposal to grant green cards to non-citizen U.S. college graduates is a focused effort to bolster the U.S. economy by retaining highly skilled individuals educated in the country. This approach marks a significant shift from his previous hardline stance on immigration, indicating a pragmatic recognition of the economic benefits these graduates can bring​.

In contrast, Biden’s policy aims for a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system. His administration seeks to create pathways to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, streamline asylum processes, and reform temporary work visa programs. Biden’s approach emphasizes humanitarian considerations and the integration of immigrant communities, reflecting a broader and more inclusive vision for immigration reform​.

Ultimately, the choice between these policies represents a decision between a targeted economic strategy and a wide-ranging humanitarian and systemic reform. Trump’s proposal may appeal to those prioritizing immediate economic gains from skilled labor, while Biden’s plan addresses long-standing immigration issues with a focus on inclusivity and long-term societal benefits.

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Updated on June 25, 2024

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