Trump Immigration Plan Seeks to Limit Visas

August 17, 2015

Donald Trump on Sunday released his first full policy paper, and the topic was immigration. Certain parts of the plan -- making Mexico pay for a wall on its border with the United States, and ending "birthright" citizenship -- are receiving the most attention. But Trump also touches on visa issues about which many in academe care.

He said that he wants to make it more difficult for noncitizens to receive H-1B visas, which are awarded to people with specialized skills needed by employers in the U.S. Trump said that "we graduate two times more Americans with STEM degrees each year than find STEM jobs," and said this would change if employers had to pay higher salaries than they do now to H-1B visa holders.

The topic of STEM employment rates is much debated, with some agreeing with Trump, and others not. In his plan, he cited an article from the journal Issues in Science and Technology. Many higher education groups have been pushing to grant more H-1B visas. Many universities are employers of H-1B visa holders, and many universities' international students want to obtain the visas.

Trump's plan also calls for the elimination of J-1 visa program for foreign youth to work in the United States. It is unclear if he is calling for the elimination of the entire program -- parts of which are used at colleges to hire international students and faculty members, generally for short-term programs -- or just the jobs portion. Trump said he would replace the jobs program with a "résumé bank" for young people in inner cities.

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