More than 100 start-ups on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to not issue any executive order on H-1B visas, arguing that American tech firms rely heavily on the visas and called the travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations “morally and economically misguided”.
“While we recognise the importance of promoting national security and protecting the interests of American workers, we
strongly believe the existing and proposed Executive Orders will not accomplish these goals and in fact, could undermine
our ability to found and grow new companies that create jobs here in the US,” they said in an open letter to Trump.
Spearheaded by two advocacy groups – Engine and National Venture Capital Association – they urged Trump to reconsider
the actions and their impact on America’s economic future.
Deeply troubled by the Executive Order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, as well as a recently-leaked draft Executive Order suggesting plans to rollback worker visa and parole programs, the start-ups said “they believe these actions are both morally and economically misguided, and will inflict irreversible harm on the startup community and America’s ability to compete globally.”
The travel ban imposed by Trump through an executive order has been halted by a federal court in Seattle. The Trump administration has challenged this stay.
In the letter, the firms expressed their concern that the new visa guidelines outlined in the draft Executive Order would harm the startups that rely on foreign talent to grow.
“The order calls for the evaluation and rolling back of various worker visa and parole programs, and is based on the concerning and misguided presumption that visa programs are harmful to American workers and the broader economy,” it said.
“In reality, it is well-established that immigrant workers at all skill levels make a positive impact on the US economy,”
it said adding that research that specifically analyzes the impact of H-1B workers has found that for every 100 immigrants
with advanced degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, an additional 86 jobs are created among US natives.
“Consequently, in 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.
The fact that so many startups rely on H-1B visas only serves to illustrate this fact, “since no sensible, time-constrained startup would opt to rely on a bureaucratically difficult process for hiring foreign-born employees” if hiring American workers was an option, the US President was told in the letter.
Additionally, the letter advised against further restricting foreign students’ ability to enter the American workforce upon completing their degrees from US universities.
“These proposed limits are based on a misunderstanding of the impact these international students have on the
experiences of US-born students,” the letter said.
“As anyone in a startup incubator or accelerator can attest, working in a community of the best and brightest improves outcomes for everyone involved. Any actions to limit the availability of these and other highskilled worker visas will only serve to stagnate growth in the tech sector and across the American economy,” the start-ups said.
According to the letter, immigrant entrepreneurs have contributed immensely to the success of the American startup economy. “We believe that the government should make it easier, rather than more difficult, for the world’s brightest and best to start and grow their companies here. Encouraging innovators from around the world to launch businesses here is one of the best ways to create jobs in the US,” they said.