This is what merit-based immigration looks like, Mr. President
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I have good news and bad news for America’s economic future.

The good news is that there is a brand new way for the world’s most talented entrepreneurs to start and grow their companies here in the United States, creating great jobs for American workers in communities across the country.


The bad news is that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is only implementing this program because a federal judge ordered them to do it, and they want to shut it down.

The program is called the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), and I’ve got to believe that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE would be a big supporter if it were on his radar.

President Trump has said that he wants to make our immigration system more “merit-based.” IER sets a high bar that only the most meritorious entrepreneurs could clear. To qualify for an initial 30-month stay in the U.S., the entrepreneurs have to show that their startup has “substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation,” which they can do by raising at least $250,000 from American investors with a solid track record. Entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world who possess the drive, talent, and merit to attract American capital should be creating jobs in America, not elsewhere.

The United States can no longer rest on its laurels as the only destination for the world’s most talented entrepreneurs. Less than a decade ago, more than 80 percent of global venture capital dollars were invested in the U.S., including all ten of the biggest deals in the world. Last year, we attracted just over 50 percent, and only three out of the ten biggest deals. Almost all the rest were in China, which went from basically zero to 25 percent of global venture capital dollars over the same period. Without IER, America will lose more startup and investment activity with each passing year.

President Trump wants to spread economic prosperity to all parts of America. IER will help do just that. Here in Colorado, I have seen firsthand how foreign-born founders have helped advance our economy, including in our local startup communities through the Global EIR program at CU Boulder. The economic growth and leadership is why startup communities and economic development groups from all over the country are clamoring for IER, from Wisconsin to Iowa to Pennsylvania.  

In justifying its plan to dismantle IER, DHS has argued the rule isn’t perfect and that Congress should create something better. I agree. But I’ve also been around the block enough to know that “waiting for Congress”, especially on immigration issues, is a synonym for “waiting forever.” Nearly a decade ago I helped launch the original advocacy effort for a true “Startup Visa,” and despite broad bipartisan support, no law has been passed by Congress. During this same decade, lawmakers in a dozen other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Chile, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, and Spain have implemented their own Startup Visa based on our original approach! Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

It’s hard to imagine an America without the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs. A recent study by the Center for American Entrepreneurship revealed that 43 percent of the Fortune 500 were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or child of an immigrant. And, immigrants have started more than half of America’s privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more.

Let’s have a lot more of a good thing. One recent analysis by New American Economy projected that IER could generate more than 300,000 American jobs over the next decade. I think that’s conservative—after all, a single entrepreneur could help launch an entirely new industry or create a cure to a debilitating disease.

If President Trump wants the next Google to be an American company—not a Chinese or Indian or French company—then he should greenlight IER. It costs taxpayers nothing, and it’s one of the quickest ways for this administration to boost economic growth and job creation all across the country.

Feld is a partner at Boulder, Colo.-based venture capital firm Foundry Group.