A primer about why immigration policies can have an important impact on startups.
The Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) is deeply disappointing for startups across the country. The rule was enacted to create a pathway for immigrant entrepreneurs to build companies and create jobs in the United States. For an Administration that has promised to spur job growth, this decision is incredibly short-sighted and detrimental to our long-term economic prosperity.
The debate over immigration policy intensified in 2017 as the new administration issued several executive orders aimed at curbing the flow of immigrants to the United States. Engine led the charge in pushing back against many of these measures, including a letter signed by over 200 startups opposing the Administration’s Executive Order banning citizens from seven countries. Skilled immigrants, especially those admitted under the H-1B program, bolster the country’s capacity for innovation and provide immense benefit to its economy at large. What’s more, foreign talent has fueled America’s thriving culture of entrepreneurialism and played a central role in making our country the leader in technology startups.
The First Comment Period for the FCC NPRM on Net Neutrality Closes. Monday was the deadline for the first round of comments to be filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that addresses the 2015 Open Internet Order. Engine was one of over 10 million groups and individuals to file comments with the Commission. The deadline for reply comments extends to August 16. In its submission, Engine explained the need for clear regulations to protect startups from threatening behavior by ISPs and incumbents. “The NPRM’s indifference to the ISP abuse of their terminating access monopoly power is incredibly dangerous to entrepreneurship. Without bright line rules banning anti-competitive ISP practices, startups will be put at a structural disadvantage in competing with well-heeled incumbents, causing venture investment to dry up and innovation to suffer,” Executive Director, Evan Engstrom, wrote. The White House, which has been mostly mum on the topic, also weighed in on the debate this week. “The best way to get fair rules for everyone is for Congress to take action and create regulatory and economic certainty,” deputy White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement.
President Trump hosted “Tech Week” this week at the White House. Events held earlier in the week included a meeting with tech company CEOs to discuss a number of policy issues including cybersecurity, tax reform, and updating the government’s technology. CEOs from 18 leading tech companies attended including Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Intel. Later in the week, the White House held meetings with investors and executives to discuss emerging technologies like drones, 5G wireless expansion, and artificial intelligence.
Yesterday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reiterating the Administration’s policy to buy American and hire American. The ‘Hire American’ side of the Executive Order directs federal agencies to evaluate the various programs that allow foreign workers to enter the United States, with a particular focus on the H-1B visa program.
A federal judge in Hawaii issued a freeze on President Trump’s new immigration ban on Wednesday, just hours before it was scheduled to take effect. Two weeks ago, President Trump signed the revised immigration ban, which narrowed the scope of the original ban to six countries and removed some of the most contentious aspects in an attempt to satisfy the courts. However, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson was not convinced, arguing that “a reasonable, objective observer...would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.” Almost 60 technology companies signed an amicus brief supporting the state of Hawaii in its suit against the federal government. The decision by Watson is probably not the final word, as the Justice Department will likely appeal the ruling and continue to fight for the ban over the coming months.
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled against President Trump’s executive order banning the citizens of seven countries and refugees from entering the U.S., maintaining a lower court’s freeze on the order. As a result, immigrants and refugees who were previously barred from the country under Trump’s EO can continue to enter the U.S.
Today, more than 200 startups and investors from across the country joined Engine and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) in sending a letter to President Trump opposing his Executive Orders on immigration—both the immigration ban EO signed on January 27th and the draft EO that would roll back existing worker visa and parole programs.
The startup community is deeply troubled by the Administration’s decision to limit the movement of immigrants—including lawful visa holders—into the U.S. on the basis of religion and country of origin—a move that came with no forewarning and has engendered uncertainty for many people, including employees at America’s startups. The executive order is both morally and economically misguided, and sets a dangerous precedent that signals to the rest of the world that America is no longer open for innovation.