It always starts with Jobs, or in this case, Steve Jobs. The son of a Syrian Ph.D candidate, we wouldn’t have the iPhone, Macbook Pro, or Apple Maps (though the last one may be a good thing) if it weren’t for the beautiful pursuit of higher learning and the American Dream.
While everyone is talking about the wall, the other executive order regarding immigration – to halt it from residents of certain nations – is far more detrimental in the continued progress of entrepreneurship. This was initially proposed as a ban on all Muslim immigration, but later rephrased after catching heat.
The seven countries listed: Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, and the Sudan, are the seven countries that we have been involved with drone strikes in 2016 and much of the Obama administration. We’re not at war with the entire country, just the terrorists that live within it. But to those that are also fleeing the oppression and destruction brought upon by ISIS, we have no room for you here.
Well imagine if we had done this in the seventies to the Vietnamese population? We wouldn’t have siracha. We wouldn’t have Uber, as the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) is Vietnamese. Many of the companies that we can celebrate and call American would be lost.
Why It Hurts The Entrepreneurs Community
Ignoring the elements of human interest and national security brought upon by this executive order, immigration reform is a detriment to innovation and entrepreneurship. There are more Asian and Pacific Islanders in Silicon Valley and Research Triangle, two of the major intellectual hubs spurring an economic dominance for the United States around the world. Research and writer Vivek Wadhwa has found that at least 43% of the Silicon Valley companies founded in the last seven years had at least one immigrant founder. Not to mention that this deters attracting talent, such as that of Shantanu Narayen and Sundar Pichai, CEO’s of Adobe and Google, respectively.
Immigrants and children of immigrants made up about 28.5% of the entire entrepreneur population in 2014. They are also twice as likely as their native-born counterpart to begin their own business. (Kauffman).
The order discriminates certain countries of “high terror” as part of the ban. We have, at periods of our history, done this before. Banning some countries and not others will create an issue for DHS and ICE workers, too. This wastes time and productivity. People seeking a pathway will find other means, encouraging illegal activity and creating a larger black market.
To exclude people based on ethnicity and religion is to be ignorant about the inevitable movement to globalization, open sourcing, and sharing of knowledge and experience.
What We Can Do
We can go into the statistics of how many cases of terrorism from these countries we have faced as a nation (a much lower rate than any domestic issues we face), but let’s propose something more proactive. In several countries, including Australia and New Zealand, there is a “startup visa” for entrepreneurs. Immigrants seeking to build a business in this country to spur the American economy are able to do so legally, if after they meet a set of qualifications. This would spur continued interest for entrepreneurs wanting to create business, job growth, and contribute to the economy.
Diversity, critical thinking, and experience help push the entrepreneurial space and economy forward. Let’s embrace it.