To Stick it to Trump, Firm Funds Immigrant Startup Visas



One venture capital firm said it would fund visas for immigrant founders in explicit opposition to Donald Trump.
Charles River Ventures (CRV) will cover the legal costs of US visas for any founders in CRV’s portfolio of startup investments, and has created a fellowship program for immigrant entrepreneurs, the firm said in a recent blog post. The informal fellowship, which has already done one investment, covers funding, support and office space.
“Donald Trump’s anti-immigration statements are diametrically opposed to the core values of entrepreneurship,” CRV’s post said.

It comes as Republican presidential hopeful Trump has called for “immigration moderation,” including raising wages to limit H-1B visas, which grant US immigration and residency rights to foreign workers qualified in so-called “specialty occupations.” Trump said prioritizing domestic workers will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley.

Danny Crichton, an investor at the 46-year-old Silicon Valley startup investment fund, said that the problems in Silicon Valley should be solved by the world’s best talent, and that broad policy changes around education and mentorship will bridge America’s technology skills gap better than visa reform alone.
Technology CEOs, such as Mark Zuckerberg, have argued that each talented specialist on an H1-B visa creates 2-or-3 American jobs in return. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton‘s technology plan proposes Green Cards for advanced science, math and technology graduates from accredited institutions, and supports visas for top entrepreneurs.
Still, Trump has at least one stalwart supporter among startup investors: PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July.
George Zachary, a partner at CRV, said that his success, like that of many others at the firm, was driven by the opportunities given to immigrants. Zachary’s father came to the US through Ellis Island and started a light bulb company that put Zachary through college.
“I do not think it is just a bubble in the 650 Palo Alto area code,” Crichton said. Crichton also said he has gotten positive feedback on the fellowship. He points to companies like Google, which employs thousands and was co-founded by Russian-born Sergey Brin. “Obviously Silicon Valley is on the side of progress … but I do not think this is an echo chamber. Would I rather have Facebook, Amazon and Apple built inside the US? Or in China?”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.




Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Torrenegra

About the author: Anita Balakrishnan

Anita Balakrishnan is a news associate at CNBC.

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