Silicon Valley leaders slam ‘discriminatory’ travel laws in letter to Congress – Business Insider

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Discriminatory travel restrictions: bad for business and for America

In December, the United States enacted a law that ends visa-free travel for individuals based on their Middle Eastern or African heritage. While the law contains other important measures to enhance national security, we urge Congress to undo the discriminatory provisions: they are harmful to the economy and to America.

Until now, citizens of the U.S., Europe, Japan, South Korea and others (38 countries in total) enjoyed a reciprocal arrangement to travel visa-free. The new law ends this right for travelers to the U.S. based on discriminatory criteria. This invites reciprocal measures similarly restricting U.S. citizens traveling to Europe and the other countries, potentially weakening the power of the U.S. passport for millions of U.S. citizens.

Discriminating based on national heritage is inconsistent with American values. In effect, certain provisions of the new law require visas for Europeans and other citizens with Iranian, Sudanese, Syrian, or Iraqi heritage. We protest this just as vigorously as if Congress had mandated special travel papers for citizens based on their faith or the color of their skin. In the balancing act between fighting terrorism and upholding American liberties, these provisions go too far.

These restrictions also harm U.S. business interests. Millions of European, Japanese, and Korean citizens travel as employees, customers, and suppliers of American firms. Requiring many of them to get visas imposes bureaucratic delays on U.S. firms. This reduces the agility and liberty of U.S. firms, makes us less competitive in the global economy, and will ultimately cost jobs.

We support the bipartisan Equal Protection in Travel Act (H.R.4380/S.2499), which mitigates these problems. We encourage Congress to enhance security via technology leadership and international cooperation without creating barriers that isolate us from our global partners.


Scott Banister
, Co-founder, Ironport; Investor, Paypal, Uber

Rich Barton, Chairman, Zillow & Glassdoor

Gina Bianchini, Co-founder & CEO, Mightybell, Ning

Joanne Bradford, COO, SoFi

Ed Catmull, President, Pixar, Disney Animation Studios

Ron Conway, Founder, SV Angel

Mark Cuban, Owner, Dallas Mavericks, Magnolia Pictures, Landmark Theatres

Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter, Square

Arash Ferdowsi, Co-founder & CTO, Dropbox

David Friedberg, Founder, Climate Corp, Metromile, Eatsa

Adriana Gascoigne, CEO & Founder, Girls In Tech

Paul Graham, Co-founder, Y Combinator

Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox

Leila Janah, Founder & CEO, Sama

Omid Kordestani, Chairman, Twitter; Former Chief Business Officer, Google

Aileen Lee, Founder, Cowboy Ventures

Max Levchin, Co-founder, Paypal, Yelp, Affirm

Joe Lonsdale, Co-founder, Palantir, Eight Partners

Mohsen Moazami, Founder & MD, Columbus Nova Technology Partners

Hamid Moghadam, Chairman & CEO, Prologis

Michael Moritz, Chairman, Sequoia Capital

Kimball Musk, Co-founder, The Kitchen

Pejman Nozad, Founder, Pejman Mar Ventures

Ali Partovi, Co-founder, LinkExchange, iLike,

Mark Pincus, CEO & Founder, Zynga

Vipul Ved Prakash, Founder, Topsy, Cloudmark

Hooman Radfar, Partner, Expa; Founder, AddThis

Ali Rowghani, Partner, YCombinator; Former COO, Twitter; CFO, Pixar

Kevin Ryan, Founder, Business Insider, Gilt, MongoDB

Lawdan Shojaee, CEO, Axosoft

Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest

Jeff Skoll, CEO, Participant Media; Former President, EBay 

Silicon Valley leaders slam ‘discriminatory’ travel laws in letter to Congress – Business Insider