Trump refugee ban prompts Canadian techies to say #WelcomeToCanada

When President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order plunged Silicon Valley into chaos on Friday, our neighbors north of the border saw an opportunity.

As green card holders, refugees fleeing their homes and others trying to get to the U.S. found themselves stuck at airports and otherwise blocked from the country, Canada’s tech community sent them a message: #WelcomeToCanada.

More than 150 Canadian tech leaders signed an open letter Sunday urging their government to create a visa that would allow those displaced by Trump’s executive order to live and work in Canada temporarily. The move follows Trump’s Friday order barring all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, blocking Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocking citizens of Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

The aim is for Canada’s up-and-coming tech industry to snag those immigrants and refugees, a diverse group of people whose skills Canadian tech execs hope will strengthen the country’s startup scene.

“Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders,” the letter states. “In choosing to hire, train, and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy. By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world.”

Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail reported on the letter over the weekend.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become known for his open stance toward immigrants and refugees, and tweeted a welcome message to those “fleeing persecution, terror & war” over the weekend after Trump signed his immigration order. Last year his administration moved to create a fast-track visa program to bring international workers into Canada, according to Bloomberg.

It may be an attractive offer to tech entrepreneurs suddenly finding themselves no longer welcome in the U.S. Canadian tech firms generate $117 billion, or about 7 percent of the country’s economic output, according to the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship’s 2016 State of Canada’s Tech Sector report. And former Facebook executive Steve Irvine recently left Silicon Valley to start an artificial intelligence company in Toronto.

“I’m moving back because I believe that AI is the biggest technology advancement that we will see in our lifetimes,” he wrote in a letter to The Globe and Mail, “and that Canada is the best place in the world to build a global leading AI company.”

Photo: This file photo taken on November 20, 2016 shows Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking during a press conference on the last day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima. (Rafael Zaruz/AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Roderick Pineda

    this is good news. problem solved. we dont have to take them in, canada is willing to do so. can we stop bickering about it now and move on ?