This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intent to delay and likely eliminate a new immigration rule that if implemented would, to borrow a phrase, make America great. The “International Entrepreneur Rule” was finalized on January 17, 2017, and was set to take effect next Monday, July 17. The rule would provide immigration opportunities for a small group of international entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that they would provide a significant public benefit to the United States in the form of U.S. economic growth and job creation. With this week’s announcement, however, President Trump has negotiated the worst deal of all – one in which America is the loser.
The International Entrepreneur Rule would provide a temporary “parole” status for foreign nationals with a proven track record of successful investments, or whose business concept has been given the stamp of approval from a federal, state, or local government entity through the receipt of a significant award or grant. Parole would provide these individuals with an opportunity to establish and grow new and innovative business opportunities in the U.S., while contributing to the economic development of our country and helping us build our competitive advantage in an increasingly global economy. With no suitable visas for immigrant entrepreneurs under current U.S. law, the International Entrepreneur Rule would fill a gaping hole in our immigration system.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump charged out of the gate, excoriating the Obama administration on the state of the economy, claiming the numbers didn’t add up with the American experience. This set the stage for one of Trump’s biggest campaign promises – creating new jobs for Americans. And when it comes to creating new jobs, no one does it better than the entrepreneur. According to a 2015 Kauffman Foundation report, “[n]ew and young companies are the primary source of job creation in the American economy … [and] contribute to economic dynamism by injecting competition into markets and spurring innovation.” Unfortunately, the rate of new entrepreneurs entering the U.S. market, which steadily rose from 2013 to 2015, is now declining. Should this trend continue, it could mean trouble for our economic future and shared prosperity.
The fabric of America has been woven by entrepreneurs. Since the early 1600s, entrepreneurs have come to the U.S. to pursue business opportunities with the hope of turning a profit and creating a better world. The entrepreneurial spirit – the desire to chart one’s own course and leave a mark upon the world – is what has purportedly driven President Trump throughout his career. According to the White House website, “Donald J. Trump is the very definition of the American success story. Throughout his life he has continually set the standards of business and entrepreneurial excellence ….” How then, can he possibly reconcile his goal of creating jobs for Americans and his clear preference for “winners” with the eradication of a program that would in fact create jobs for U.S. workers and help propel America to the winner’s circle in the battle for supremacy in innovation? The answer is that he can’t. The only thing driving the elimination of the International Entrepreneur Rule is a blind desire to crack down on immigration. It seems that anything and everything related to immigration right now is in the crosshairs, no matter how much good a particular program or initiative would do for our country. Simply put, championing job creation while making it impossible for immigrant entrepreneurs to create American jobs is hypocritical.
The administration should embrace the Immigrant Entrepreneur Rule. Better yet, it should work with Congress to create a more permanent solution in the form of a start-up visa so that we can attract more immigrant entrepreneurs to the U.S., instead of losing them to other countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Chile, and Singapore. Regardless of where they are born, entrepreneurs do not take jobs from Americans, they create jobs for Americans. In this case, the administration’s hard line stance on immigration means Americans will lose big in terms of the entrepreneurial spirit and job-creating potential that these individuals would have brought to the U.S.