President Donald Trump seemingly teased plans for broader immigration reform on Friday, tweeting that he is open to a path to citizenship for holders of a visa for high-skilled workers known as H1-B.
The social media post comes as the White House negotiates with congressional Democrats to strike a deal to end the ongoing government shutdown, now in its 21st day. Trump has thus far refused to reopen the government unless Congress appropriates money for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but on Friday seemed to suggest that he would be open larger immigration reform proposals.
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“H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship,” Trump wrote online Friday morning.
The H1-B program is frequently used by tech companies in the U.S. to bring in highly skilled foreign workers for specialized, in-demand jobs and has been a target of the Trump administration over to criticisms that it displaces American workers. The program grants 65,000 employment visas each year, plus an additional 20,000 for U.S. master’s degree holders, but the Trump administration’s eagerness to limit immigration has added a measure of uncertainty for visa holders and the companies looking to employ them.
Though the Trump administration has sought to clamp down on abuses of the program alleged by members of both parties in Congress, the president’s tweet Friday highlighted its advantages.
“We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.,” he said.
While Trump hinted Friday that he might be interested in broader immigration reform, shutdown negotiations thus far have mostly steered clear of issues unrelated to the border wall even though members of both parties have indicated that other immigration issues might offer fodder for a compromise to be struck.
Democratic leaders, wary of Trump’s mercurial nature, have repeatedly said that they were not interested in striking any deal with the president that would trade wall funding for other immigration priorities, though those proposals would most likely involve a path to citizenship or other protections for so-called Dreamers.
During a visit Thursday to the southern border, Trump told reporters that he would be open to a deal to help immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children, though he declined to link it directly to reopening the government.
“We want to help the Dreamers,” he said.