Immigration Ban is a Disaster for the Tech Economy

February 7, 2017 - 3 minutes read

On January 27, Trump issued an executive order banning immigrants from select Muslim-majority countries. The shock waves are still rolling through the app development community, creating massive political backlash even from actively non-political tech giants.

Critics are quick to suggest that tech companies are simply trying to protect H–1B visa programs. Fair point — H-B1 visa abuse is a problem with some tech companies. Just like agriculture, manufacturing, and Trump’s own golf courses, American business has a labor problem.

Cutting to the chase: the tech community backlash against Trump’s order isn’t from executives worried about cheap labor. It’s coming from tech workers, who are sincerely worried about other human beings.

The US is famously built on immigrants, and the mobile app development community is no exception. At Microsoft, 76% of workers were affected by the ban.

As the US education system has failed to create engineering and STEM technology career tracks for students, huge vacancies in the tech workforce have made immigration a necessity. While tech is often criticized for it’s predominantly white and male workforce, walk in the doors of most startups and agencies and you’ll find people from all backgrounds and walks of life. In fact Dogtown Media was co-founded by Rob Pope, a British citizen who’s founded 3 companies in the USA, creating over 50 new jobs to date.

Diversity has steadily grown in tech, thanks in no small part to the many boot camps and non-profits dedicated to sharing the tech boom’s prosperity across social and economic lines. These highly specialized skills sets are critical for the future of our economy and competitiveness in the world. IoT app development in particular is crucial to shaping the future of cities, homes, and transport systems.

Tech is a borderless enterprise, dependent upon software engineers to build complex platforms for fast-growth industries like mHealth, FinTech, and the sharing economy. It’s no surprise, then, that the tech community is siding with most of the country in viewing indiscriminate bans as unconstitutional, inhumane, and discriminatory.

Sam Altman of Y Combinator may have said it best: “Silicon Valley is stepping up … on three fronts: They are vociferously objecting to the Trump policies they think are bad, they are trying to engage with him to influence his behavior, and they are developing new technology to work against policies and political discourse they don’t support.”

As a prominent mobile app developer in NYC, Dogtown Media, for our part, is co-signing alongside Apple, Google, and 50 other tech companies in a letter urging the Trump administration to change course on immigration policy. A strong, thoughtful immigration policy can serve public safety needs and continue the American tradition of diversity and tolerance. The immigration policy being enacted by the current administration, beyond failing to serve that tradition, is simply unconstitutional.

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