StartUp Visa Act Shuns America’s Entrepreneurs

President Obama has been telling us that we are no longer up to the task of facing down our foreign competition, raising the question of what took place over the past two years to cause us to lose our edge. Since 2009, our government has pursued a policy of passing out rewards to labor unions and the public sector while intimidating businesses into inertia with threats of overregulation and looming taxation. The architects of the Recovery Act are still trying to convince us of the success of their job creation strategy despite unemployment numbers that have dropped less than 1.5% since October 2009’s high of 10.1%.

The president has been visiting countries as diverse as India and Colombia, talking about all things global in press appearances while pushing voters back home to take the bait and endorse his Winning the Future agenda so we can, once again, be as smart and successful as our foreign competition.

While Mr. Obama trotted the globe, Senators John Kerry, Dick Lugar, and Mark Udall retooled a 2010 plan to foster job creation on the home front. S.565, the StartUp Visa Act of 2011:

Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish an employment-based, conditional immigrant visa (StartUp visa) for a sponsored alien entrepreneur: (1) with required amounts of financial backing from a qualifying investor, government entity, or venture capitalist; and (2) whose commercial activities will generate required levels of employment, revenue, or capital investment.¹

In short, thanks America, but we have decided to look elsewhere.

This is a surprising bit of legislation to come from three die-hard supporters of the DREAM Act. The bill’s amnesty-before-the-fact approach ties immigration status to wealth and revenue in a complete reversal of the fairness rhetoric that amnesty supporters twist to justify the presence of illegal immigrants. In fact, S.565 does just the opposite by requiring that newly-Americanized business owners who fail to meet the bill’s job creation, capital, and revenue benchmarks return home, voluntarily or otherwise.

StartUp Visa Bill sponsor Senator Mark Udall sounds like he is ready to throw in the towel on innovation by Americans:

“Our broken immigration system prevents talented entrepreneurs from all over the world from developing ideas that keep America competitive in a global economy. While I believe broader reform of the immigration system is long overdue, this fix is important to ensure we don’t unnecessarily hinder the innovators and entrepreneurs who will help drive America’s future economy,” said Sen. Udall.²

Does Washington really want to send the message that we need foreign talent to sustain our economy? Trying to lure the most capable from other countries by diverting startup capital from domestic entrepreneurs pits America’s home-grown innovators against foreign talent preselected by their ability, or the ability of their backers, to raise money. The bill also invites competition to our soil by allowing foreign companies to contribute startup funds. Hopefully, S.565’s creators have found a way to wipe the memories of these quasi-American business owners clean of the intellectual property they may be inclined to ship back home. Not all countries shun nationalism, believe in fairness, or desire to level the playing field by globally merging talent and innovation. If the worldview favored by Democrats and the president reflected reality, we would not be in an ongoing debate with China over trade restrictions and currency manipulation.

What does the StartUp Visa Act mean to those of us who are not foreign-born entrepreneurs nurturing a dream of business ownership? If S.565 is passed, and does what its sponsors claim it will do, we will have a greater variety, and larger number of foreign-owned businesses to work for. Americans will be able to go to bed at night hopeful that someday our government will decide that they, too, will be bright and capable enough to own businesses, and set the course for our country’s economy.

1..The Library of Congress. THOMAS. Bill Summary & Status. 112th Congress (2011–2012). S.565. All Information.

2..John Kerry. U.S. Senator for Massachusetts. Kerry-Lugar-Udall Visa Bill Will Create Jobs in America. March 14, 2011., retrieved April 14, 2011.



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