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On January 27, 2017, the President of the United States signed an executive order that placed new restrictions on US immigration. Part of the order calls for a 90-day suspension of entries for immigrants and non-immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. This applies to lawful residents of the country (green card holders) and those with temporary visas alike.
While reports about how much of this ban can or will be supported vary, the United States was sent reeling again when Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump will continue to talk about reforming the H-1B visa program, among others, as part of a larger push for immigration reform. Spicer said Trump will do so through executive order, as well as by working with Congress.
Tweet this: What does the US #ImmigrationBan mean for the #CanadianTech industry?
The repercussions of this decision are far reaching in the tech world. CEOs from Goldman Sachs to Apple, Lyft to Netflix and Google are condemning the immigration ban and lamenting the effect it will have on the U.S. technology sector, which is supported in no small part by immigrant contributions. According to the 2016 Silicon Valley Index, 37% of its residents are foreign-born, including 50% of workers ages 25-44.
Newswires have been inundated with statements relaying the personal connection these and many other companies had to immigration. The stories expressed just how much the tech industry relies on the skills and passion of immigrants, both past and present. The Kauffman Foundation reports that in 2010, more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the child of an immigrant, otherwise known as Dreamers.
What this Means for Canada
While the news of this order has left Silicon Valley in disarray, this could present a big opportunity for the technology hubs located in Canada in cities like Vancouver and Toronto. As a neighbouring country with our very own booming tech industry, Canada has become a desired location for many of these immigrant workers. This has not gone unnoticed from the local tech community either.
An open letter calling on Ottawa to grant temporary residence to anyone displaced by the ban garnered over 3,000 signatures from members of Canada’s tech community. The letter mentions an understanding of “the power of inclusion and diversity of thought,” and asks the Canadian government to grant those barred from the US the ability to live and work in Canada with access to residency benefits while they complete the application for permanent residency (if they choose to remain).
Prime Minister Trudeau took to Twitter to express his support for refugees looking for solace from the United States.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
Additionally, another small group of cofounders are working to provide aid to US companies interested in creating subsidiaries in Canada. The hope is that in a matter of weeks, these companies could move US-based employees to an office in Vancouver, a location with many similarities to Silicon Valley.
Instead of creating a non-profit, the group formed True North, a company offering a $6,000 package including airfare, 2 night accommodations and advice on the process from immigration professionals. With this, employees will be able to keep their current jobs while working within a protected status.
Intelliware: Meeting You Where You Are
The belief that diversity is important to innovation fuels support from Canadian tech leaders, including our very own company. This is an opportunity for Canada and, of course, our very own organization. As our CEO and Founder, Greg Betty, said:
“At Intelliware, tolerance, diversity and respecting the views of others have always been at the core of our corporate culture and something that gives us strength. For us, we can’t imagine working any other way.”
He preceded his statement by signing his own name to the open letter. Intelliware prides itself on progressive thinking and support for the diversity that has always been the foundational fabric of Canada.
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