As Donald Trump escalated his crackdown on undocumented immigrants Tuesday, a number of tech entrepreneurs denounced the president's actions as measures that will ultimately hurt American businesses, continuing a pattern already firmly established in the month since his inauguration.
These latest steps, detailed in a pair of memos released Tuesday, broaden the range of undocumented immigrants who are subject to expedited removal from the United States and call for the Department of Homeland Security to hire 15,000 more border patrol immigration agents. Additionally, the memos call for the expansion of immigrant detention centers and exhort local law enforcement agencies to assist in the enforcement of immigration laws. These new rules do exempt so-called Dreamers--those immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
"The administration continues to get it wrong on immigration policy--these new steps have all been tried before and failed," says Raj Goyle, founder and co-CEO of Bodhala, a New York City-based startup. "They make us less safe and come at an extraordinarily high cost."
Other entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley join Goyle in arguing that such broad opposition to immigration will hurt American innovation.
Undocumented immigrants "worked very hard to get here and they work very hard while they're here," says Bismarck Lepe, CEO of San Francisco tech company Wizeline. Lepe is a Mexican American whose parents came to the U.S. legally, but he also has many relatives who came to the U.S. illegally. "We want to make sure that we keep more of those people in the U.S."
Those are coming to be familiar sentiments. Earlier this month, the tech industry was among the loudest public opponents of Trump's controversial travel ban. Dozens of tech companies made statements opposing the ban, a number of companies and individuals in the sector donated millions to the American Civil Liberties Union, and more than 100 companies banded together to oppose the ban with an amicus brief.
As Trump continues to repeat rhetoric that is unwelcoming of immigrants, many entrepreneurs are doing the exact opposite.
"To maintain our advantage, it's critical that Silicon Valley remain welcoming and inclusive to people of all backgrounds," says Harry Glaser, co-founder and CEO of Periscope Data, a San Francisco tech company that makes visualization products for data analysts. "President Trump's actions on immigration are causing lasting damage to that welcoming and inclusive reputation."
Already, these orders are starting to dissuade talented technologists from coming to the U.S. One of Wizeline's engineers in Mexico currently has a job offer to work for Google, but he is unsure if he wants to work in a country where it is increasingly becoming more acceptable to discriminate against Mexicans and other foreigners, Lepe says.
"Maybe it's time for the rest of the world to really focus on keeping their own and creating opportunities in their own countries. Maybe that's a good thing," Lepe says. "But it is going to hurt the U.S."