Former President Donald Trump has proposed granting automatic green cards to foreign students who graduate from U.S. colleges. This proposal, which Trump discussed in a podcast interview with venture capitalists and tech investors on "All-In," represents a significant departure from his typically restrictive immigration policies.

"What I want 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. And that includes junior colleges too, anybody graduates from a college. You go there for two years or four years," Trump said. He emphasized that this would be a priority on his first day back in office if elected.

Trump's suggestion to offer green cards, which would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship, to potentially hundreds of thousands of foreign graduates marks a stark contrast to his previous rhetoric. Throughout his political career, Trump has often portrayed immigrants, particularly those in the country illegally, as a threat to public safety and American jobs. He has vowed to conduct the largest deportation operation in U.S. history if re-elected.

Despite his usual rhetoric, Trump and his allies have occasionally distinguished between legal and illegal immigration. However, his administration also sought to reduce legal immigration by proposing cuts to family-based visas and the visa lottery program. His 2017 "Buy American and Hire American" executive order directed Cabinet members to reform business visa programs to prioritize the highest-paid or most-skilled applicants, ostensibly to protect American workers.

In the "All-In" podcast, Trump blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for his inability to implement similar measures during his presidency. He cited instances where graduates from prestigious U.S. institutions, particularly from India and China, were forced to return to their home countries due to visa restrictions, only to become successful entrepreneurs abroad. "You need a pool of people to work for your company," Trump said. "And they have to be smart people. Not everybody can be less than smart. You need brilliant people."

Following the podcast, Trump campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt issued a statement clarifying that the proposed policy would involve rigorous vetting. "President Trump has outlined the most aggressive vetting process in U.S. history, to exclude all communists, radical Islamists, Hamas supporters, America haters, and public charges. He believes, only after such vetting has taken place, we ought to keep the most skilled graduates who can make significant contributions to America."

This proposal is a notable divergence from Trump's usual immigration stance, which has included promises to end birthright citizenship and reinstate travel bans on individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries. It is not yet clear whether this proposed green card policy would extend to those who entered the U.S. illegally.

Trump highlighted the economic and innovative potential of retaining foreign graduates. "I know of stories where people graduated from a top college or from college, and they desperately wanted to stay here and had a plan for a company, a concept. And they can't," he said. "Somebody graduates at the top of the class, they can't even make a deal with a company because they don't think they're going to be able to stay in the country. That is going to end on day one."

The proposal has sparked discussions about the future of immigration policy in the U.S., particularly in relation to the country's ability to attract and retain top global talent. By suggesting green cards for foreign graduates, Trump is signaling a potential shift towards a more inclusive and talent-driven immigration strategy, which could have significant implications for the U.S. economy and innovation landscape.