Venture capitalists are ramping up their fight against President Donald Trump over a decision to delay an immigration program that would have allowed experienced foreign-born entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. to build new companies.
The National Venture Capital Association, an industry group of top U.S. venture capitalists, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Washington D.C. District Court against the Trump Administration, alleging it illegally delayed an immigration program created during President Obama’s term.
The lawsuit challenges the Department of Homeland Security delay of the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would have allow foreign-born entrepreneurs to travel to or stay in the U.S. to build their companies for up to 5 years without obtaining a visa. Qualified entrepreneurs are initially allowed to stay for two and half years with a possible extension.
DHS delayed the rule in July, just a week before it was supposed to go into effect. The lawsuit alleges that the DHS violated federal law when it didn’t ask for public comment on the delay. As a result, immigrant entrepreneurs that intended to use the rule have, or will be, harmed, the NVCA argues.
The group is asking the court to require DHS to implement the rule and begin processing applications.
The NVCA argues that immigrant entrepreneurs play a vital role in strengthening the U.S. economy, creating new jobs for Americans and pushing the boundaries of innovation. For example, a one NVCA study in 2013 found one-third of U.S. venture-backed companies that went public between 2006 and 2012 had at least one immigrant founder. And some of the country’s most prominent companies had at least one immigrant founder, including Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
“Rather than throw up roadblocks that prevent them from bringing their talent and ingenuity to our shores, we should welcome them with open arms,” said Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of NVCA. “A global race is underway to attract and retain talented entrepreneurs and we should be doing all we can to win.”
NVCA and the other plaintiffs are represented by the American Immigration Council and Mayer Brown LLP.