A group of prominent tech entrepreneurs has called President Donald Trump’s recent mandate—which bars travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States—“morally and economically misguided” and potentially detrimental to American startups.
In an open letter to Trump co-signed by hundreds of entities, including angel investor Ron Conway and social network site Pinterest, the group said it was “deeply troubled” by the travel ban, as well as by another leaked draft of an executive that implies a potential reduction in the number of foreign workers who can legally work for U.S. tech companies. That second order is intended to protect jobs for American workers, according to the draft.
Trump’s travel ban prevents citizens from Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan from entering the United States for 90 days; refugees are barred for 120 days.
» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.
“Every individual turned away or dissuaded from making America his or her home represents a potential employee or entrepreneur who will no longer be able to contribute to the success of companies in America,” the letter said.
The H-1B visa program, cited in the draft executive order, allows companies to hire highly specialized foreign workers if businesses “cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce,” according to the Labor Department.
By “limiting job opportunities for immigrants, your administration faces the possibility of reducing jobs for American citizens, in addition to suppressing growth in the startup economy,” the letter said, citing research from the American Enterprise Institute suggesting that for every 100 immigrants with advanced STEM-related degrees, “an additional 86 jobs are created among U.S. natives.”
Both the orders "will inflict irreversible harm on the startup community."
It’s not the first time technologists, many of who are based in the Silicon Valley area, have spoken out against Trump.
Another group, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and Airbnb, filed an amicus brief to the 9th Court of Appeals, arguing the travel ban not only disrupted ongoing business operations for companies with foreign employees, but also “threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business and investment to the United States.”
“People who choose to leave everything that is familiar and journey to an unknown land to make a new life necessarily are endowed with drive, creativity, determination—and just plain guts,” that brief says. “The energy they bring to America is a key reason why the American economy has been the greatest engine of prosperity and innovation in history.”
During Trump’s presidential campaign, another group of entrepreneurs, including Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, Facebook Co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, and former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, co-signed an open letter calling Trump a “disaster for innovation.”
“[P]rogressive immigration policies help us attract and retain some of the brightest minds on earth—scientists, entrepreneurs and creators,” that letter said. “Donald Trump, meanwhile, traffics in ethnic and racial stereotypes, repeatedly insults women and is openly hostile to immigration. He has promised a wall, mass deportations and profiling.”