Hundreds of leaders in New York City’s technology community are telling President Donald Trump that his travel ban will harm an industry desperately in need of engineers and other highly skilled workers.
A letter circulated on Sunday garnered 400 signatures from CEOs and investors in less than 12 hours.
“I’ve been putting letters like this together for much of my career and these things never come together in a day,” Julie Samuels, the executive director of Tech NYC, a nonprofit organization representing the city’s tech sector, told Metro. “It can take weeks. I’ve never seen the caliber of signatories in one day, especially on a Sunday.”
Once the final letter is ready and sent to the White House, Samuels said she expects it will feature more than 1,000 signatures. From there, Samuels said, the tech community will figure out what actions it plans to take, adding, “I can’t tell you for certain what the next steps are, but I can tell you there will be next steps.”
Samuels said foreign-born workers are vital to America’s tech industry, and highly skilled workers entering the country on an H1B visa are not taking jobs from American workers.
“When it comes to tech talent, there’s not enough of it in the U.S. We’re not producing enough engineers,” Samuels said. “This is a problem with the education system.
“We’re working with legislatures to fix that so Americans can get the good jobs tech companies are creating, but right now, there is a problem.”
Immigrants are also twice as likely to create billion-dollar startup companies and create American jobs, Samuels said.
“They’re going to be somewhere,” she added. “We’d rather they’d be here.”
Samuels said that she is still trying to wrap her head around the idea that tech companies are only concerned about the bottom line, saying tech CEOs signed the letter because changes to immigration “affects the ecosystem, diversity and community that we all live in and work in.
“They want a country and a New York that welcome immigrants. New York is the best place to build a business.”