Perhaps surprisingly, Trump says bring on the international students

But his policies contradict his tweets, experts argue

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is vying for the Republican nomination, wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico, eliminate birthright citizenship—and welcome more international students from abroad.

Maybe so, according to recent statements by the candidate on social media, Elizabeth Redden reports for Insider Higher Ed

In a tweet Tuesday, Trump said, "When foreigners attend our great colleges & want to stay in the U.S., they should not be thrown out of our country." And later he followed up with a second message that read, "I want talented people to come into this country—to work hard and to become citizens. Silicon Valley needs engineers, etc."

America's colleges are getting a bad rap on the skills gap

While the Trump campaign has not commented specifically on what the tweets may mean, his immigration position paper released earlier this month provides some clues that complicate the picture.

Trump's policies

In the paper, Trump proposed raising the prevailing wage paid to workers on H-1B worker visas, one of the only routes through which international students can gain permanent residency after graduation. Higher education and business leaders support raising the number of H-1B visas issued to help fill in-demand jobs and bolster the appeal of studying in the United States.

Trump's proposal would also mandate that companies hire domestic workers before hiring H-1B applicants. And he has criticized legislation that would lift the cap on how many H-1B visas can be issued.

Push for reform

Trump is taking a "protectionist" stance on the visas, according to Neil Ruiz, executive director of the Center for Law, Economics and Finance at George Washington University who previously studied the issue at the Brookings Institution.

But many higher education organizations would like to see policymakers make it easier for international students to gain lawful employment after they graduate. Fourteen higher education groups sent a letter of support in January for the Immigration Innovation Act—which would lift H-1B visa caps for people with advanced U.S. degrees in STEM fields. 

Hillary Clinton outlines ambitious $350 billion agenda for higher education

Some leaders challenged Trump to update his policy proposals to match his rhetoric on welcoming international students. "While Trump tweets good things about keeping talented international students in our country, his policy makes no mention of how he will attract and retain them," said Heather Stewart, the counsel and director of immigration policy for NAFSA (Redden, Inside Higher Ed, 8/21).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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