Trump to push new immigration rollback Sanders once supported

The J-1 visa exchange-visitor program was criticized by Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2013

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 28, 2017 3:46PM (EDT)

Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump   (AP/Mary Altaffer/Richard Drew/Photo montage by Salon)
Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump (AP/Mary Altaffer/Richard Drew/Photo montage by Salon)

A new report indicates that President Donald Trump is going to continue to push forward his anti-immigration agenda, this time by significantly curtailing cultural exchange programs in the United States.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the rollbacks being considered by Trump would focus on five employment-based programs that are part of the J-1 visa exchange-visitor program. Young foreigners, including au pairs and summer workers, could be impacted by the new policy if it is put into place.

This new policy would be part of a larger anti-immigration push that Trump has been pursuing in August. At the start of the month, he supported an effort by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia to reduce legal immigration by imposing a skills-based immigration system.

Trump said at the time that, "It has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers." He added that the new bill "would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century."

While proposals like the one pushed by Trump, Cotton and Perdue are usually unpopular outside of the far right, Trump's proposed reform to the J-1 program could actually garner left-wing support, but not for its jingoism. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont denounced this program in 2013 during a speech which argued that "the J-1 program for foreign college students is supposed to be used as a cultural exchange program, a program to bring young people into this country to learn about our customs and to support international cooperation and understanding."

Sanders added at the time, "But instead of doing that, this program has morphed . . . into a low-wage jobs program to allow corporations . . . to replace young American workers with cheaper labor from overseas."

Of course, one should note the motivations of these radically different men may stem from radically different origins and target radically different ends. We will have to see how Sanders responds to being somewhat on the same side of an issue as Trump.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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