Like you, we have had time to digest the executive order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” issued by President Trump last Friday. Under the order, the president indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., implemented a hold on all refugee admission for 120 days and blocked entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations into the U.S. for 90 days.
The consequences of the late Friday order sent ripples across our country, leading to chaos and confusion at airports, surprising detentions, mass demonstrations, and global outrage. As the impact of the order became better understood, the criticism has only increased.
I am troubled about the uncertainty that President Trump’s executive order brings to the U.S. entrepreneurial ecosystem. America’s traditions of openness, collaboration and inclusion, have been critical elements to our success as a nation, and are particularly important to the health of entrepreneurship. When NVCA looks at changes to immigration policy, we must consider whether those changes would attract or repel the best and the brightest from around the world.
Twenty years ago, the U.S. accounted for more than 90% of global venture capital investment. Today, we account for only 54%. Countries around the world are doing all they can to attract and retain talent to grow their ecosystems while we do the opposite—overlook and under-appreciate the fact that one-third to one-half of U.S. startups are founded by foreign-born entrepreneurs.
Many from our community lent their voices to the discussion this past weekend, using social media, blogs and news outlets to voice your disapproval. I spent a lot of time over the weekend reading and internalizing much of what our community has been saying.
The reaction has been swift and forceful. What I see is a community that views this executive order as hostile to many of our core beliefs. The venture community stands for openness and inclusion, cemented in the belief that immigrants have played a vital role in the success of our country and its entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The voice of the venture community must be heard on immigration, as with many other policy issues. As the debate continues, I encourage you to reach out to us to share your thoughts and stories you come across about how President Trump’s executive order affects your firm and the entrepreneurs with which you partner. Does the executive order directly impact a foreign-born founder, CEO or employee at one of your portfolio companies? Share it! Are there employees at one of your portfolio companies whose lives are being disrupted as a result of the executive order? Share it! Your perspective is critical to our work in Washington for advocating on behalf of the venture community and the companies in which you invest.
Please know that in the days and weeks ahead your team at NVCA will be laser-focused on representing you in Washington. We know this is only the beginning of a number of immigration enforcement issues that we will face. But we can’t do it alone. Let’s use this executive order as a way to band together and speak as one so we can make our voice heard. For those venture firms that are not members, now is the time to get engaged and be a part of the conversation.