In its most recent move to crack down on immigration, the Trump Administration has now, through the Department of Homeland Security, announced plans to rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule. The rule, an Obama-era initiative drafted two days before Trump’s inauguration, would have allowed immigrant founders of new start-ups to remain in the states for up to five years. The rule was designed to allow those who were creating new jobs to remain in the U.S. for two and a half years with the possibility of a similar extension, provided the immigrant stayed on par with company growth milestones and development.
The rule has been controversial from its beginning. Less than one week before it was scheduled to go into effect, the Department of Homeland Security stated the rule would be delayed and announced its intention to eliminate the rule. The NVCA argued that the rule could not be delayed because the DHS did not solicit public comment. That December, a judge ruled in favor of NVCA, stating the DHS must lift the delay and begin implementing the new rule. Though the DHS has now opened the door for public comment on the rescission of the rule, legal proceedings are still ongoing. Earlier this month, NVCA, along with its co-plaintiffs, filed a motion for discovery to determine whether DHS had complied with the court order.
According to a study performed in 2016, immigrant entrepreneurs account for over half of the U.S. startups valued at over one billion. In fact, among these billion dollar startups, it is estimated that approximately 760 jobs per company were added on average. The collective value of immigrant founded start-ups is around $168 billion. The rule was an effort made by the former administration to bring more competitive immigrants into the country at a time when other countries, such as France, Singapore, Canada and Germany, all have similar visa programs drawing talent to their shores. It was also a move to make progress in immigration reform, as Congress was unable to pass immigration reform legislation at the time. According to Obama officials, other countries were making it easier for savvy immigrants to obtain visas and create jobs, and the move was an effort to be competitive in the free market.
“It is very entrepreneurial, it is very free market-oriented, and so I think any Republican who is serious about business would have to take this rule seriously,” stated Leon Rodriguez, the former director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services under Obama, when the rule was first created. Economists agreed that the rule was likely to benefit, not harm, the economy and job markets.
“The average American worker is more likely to lose than to gain from immigration restrictions.” Giovanni Peri, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis, explained. The ambition and skills presented by entrepreneurial immigrants are needed for a global economy to remain competitive. Economists argue rolling back the rule will prevent the United States from building its best businesses.
Bobby Franklin, President and CRO of the National Venture Capital Association, released a statement on Friday. “The startup and venture community is very disappointed with DHS’s short-sighted decision to turn away American jobs that would be created by the International Entrepreneur Rule.” He further stated: “The facts are clear: our country needs more entrepreneurship, which is exactly what the International Entrepreneur Rule would bring.” Franklin added that the association would continue to explain to the administration why immigrant entrepreneurship benefits the country and needs lawmaker support.
Supporters of the rule’s recension disagree with economists, stating that a crackdown on immigration is needed in order to protect American jobs. They argue that “parole,” the term used to describe short-term permission to stay in the United States, should be reserved for emergency or other very short term purposes. Conservative think tanks, such as the Center for Immigration Studies and others, claim there is a correlation between stricter immigration policies and jobs available for American workers. Most economists, however, disagree with the idea that fewer immigrants simply equal more American jobs.