In President Donald Trump's latest effort to wall the U.S. off from the rest of the world, his administration has ditched a plan to make it easier for successful foreign entrepreneurs to come and work in America. The decision may play well with the president's nationalist base, but it will not help the U.S. economy.
The administration has delayed (and will probably kill) the International Entrepreneur Rule, which was designed to provide a special "start-up visa" for entrepreneurs who attract funding for businesses in the U.S. The rule was intended to benefit entrepreneurs whose ideas had attracted at least six-figure funding from either private investors or a government entity. They were to be selected on a case-by-case basis, after demonstrating that they would provide a "significant public benefit" through rapid growth and job creation, and could stay in the U.S. on renewable 30-month visas.
The goal of the rule, which was finalized under President Barack Obama and scheduled to take effect next week, was straightforward: "To increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation in the United States."
It's unclear what the Trump administration believes it will achieve by discarding the plan. What's more, it couldn't come at a worse time. The U.S. economy is far less dynamic than it needs to be, with start-ups accounting for a declining share of both companies and employment. One-third of venture-backed companies in the U.S., meanwhile, have at least one immigrant founder. The Trump administration's reflexive hostility to all things foreign — including good business ideas that venture capitalists wish to back — is counterproductive.
Last month, as the administration was contemplating the elimination of the start-up visa, a group of Republican senators wrote to Homeland Security secretary John Kelly saying the change would make it harder for the U.S. to attract entrepreneurs and their investment. Investment money will still find its way to clever entrepreneurs who might've benefited from the program, of course. The only difference now is that they won't be creating businesses and jobs in the U.S.