More than 200 tech industry leaders signed a letter to be sent to President Donald Trump on Tuesday opposing the administration's refugee and travel ban and highlighting what they claim are irreversible harms the immigration order will inflict on the US startup community.
Deep pocketed investors, tech startups, and venture capital firms are among the signatories, which include: Josh Kopelman, Ron Conway, Dave McClure, and Shervin Pishevar.
The investors and tech leaders took issue not only with the Trump administration's travel ban — which will face a major legal test in federal court Tuesday evening — but with reports that Trump will seek to limit skilled work-visa programs favored by tech companies.
"We are deeply troubled by the recent Executive Order banning citizens of seven countries and refugees from entering the U.S., as well as the recently leaked draft Executive Order suggesting plans to roll back worker visa and parole programs," states the letter. "We 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 coalition of startups and investors argues that the tech industry depends on skilled workers from abroad to satisfy the high demand for IT professionals. "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 simply hiring qualified American workers was an option," states the letter.
Two dozen Democratic lawmakers also made an urgent case for promoting skilled immigrant programs in a letter to President Trump on Monday, and in a separate effort, more than 100 tech companies joined a friend-of the-court brief opposing the immigration order, in part, on economic grounds.
Accel, General Assembly, 500 startups, and the National Venture Capital Association were among the 214 signatories, as were Venmo, Pinterest, and Vimeo.
"While it appears that the White House isn't backing down from the immigration ban, we'd like to believe that there is still time to convince the President to scrap the proposed Executive Order that would make it harder for the best and brightest innovators from around the world to come to the U.S. to launch and grow the startups that are responsible for all net job growth in this country," Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom told BuzzFeed News.
Hamza Shaban is a technology policy reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Hamza Shaban at Hamza.Shaban@buzzfeed.com.
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