As a venture capitalist, I’m passionate about funding companies that drive positive change in the world. I seek out technologies with major potential to disrupt industries and have an outsized impact on society.
Not surprisingly, I’ve discovered that top talent often comes from beyond our borders. I’ve invested in incredibly smart people who come from as far away as India, the Ukraine and the United Kingdom in fields as diverse as aerospace, consumer food brands and self-driving trucks.
The ability of funders like me to recognize fresh ideas, as well as the people behind these innovations, keeps the United States at the forefront of global competitiveness.
So I strongly oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would allow immigrant entrepreneurs to create companies and jobs in America. Last month, more than 100 economists across the country, including from Stanford and San Francisco State universities, signed a letter to the Department of Homeland Security opposing the move.
I run a small early stage ventures fund called Alpha Bridge Ventures. In the last few years, I’ve invested in immigrant founders who have employed dozens of American citizens in both high-paying tech-sector jobs and less-skilled, but equally important positions. They include an Indian immigrant who cofounded Starsky Robotics, the firm that’s developing driverless trucks, and a Canadian who helped create the vegetarian frozen-food company Alpha Foods.
Choking off the supply of such motivated business leaders will not only hurt job growth and tax revenue, it will hurt my business as well. I have already witnessed a growing number of talented foreigners moving to Canada in response to the U.S. government’s unwelcome attitude towards even legal immigrants.
I need to find and nurture the best talent to solve the world’s biggest problems – no matter where they are in the world. If I can’t bring them here, I’ll go there. As a result, I’ve also started thinking about shifting some of my investments into new tech hotbeds like Toronto.
It’s absurd to prevent brilliant people from moving to our country to build businesses here, hire American workers here, pay taxes here and develop new technology here.
The fear that they’re somehow buying the chance to move to the head of the immigration line is unfounded. In order to even qualify for a visa under the program, entrepreneurs have to prove they’ve raised at least $250,000 in outside capital. In order to stay, they must show they’ve generated $500,000 in additional funding or business revenue, or created at least five full-time American jobs within 2 1/2 years.
Supporting such immigrant innovation is clearly a win-win for our country. Estimates by New American Economy show the International Entrepreneur Rule would create nearly 200,000 new jobs for Americans over the next decade. Research also has shown that immigrants start businesses at nearly twice the rate as native-born Americans and are responsible for more than one in four new businesses.
The country’s nearly 3 million immigrant entrepreneurs employ nearly 6 million Americans and generated more than $65 billion in annual revenue, according to NAE. In addition, immigrants or their children were responsible for founding more than 40 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies.
Fortunately, these talented founders still want to come to America. Their dreams benefit us all. We should welcome them.
Jake Chapman is a resident of Alameda and cofounder of Alpha Bridge Ventures in San Francisco.