A shout out for the pro-immigrant Boston tech scene

February 7, 2017

In Sunday’s Boston Globe, Correspondent Scott Kirsner dug into a phrase I hadn’t heard before: “virtue signaling.” He’d caught wind of it via Twitter, he writes, where it was getting thrown around as a critique of how businesses have responded to President Trump’s immigration and refugee ban. Kirsner’s response is so perfectly Bostonian: 

What was tossing tea in the harbor and hanging two lanterns in the steeple of Old North Church, if not signaling? Advocating for abolition, women’s rights, public education, universal health care, and same-sex marriage, I’d argue, have made for some pretty virtuous moments in our history.”

In the meantime, there seems to be some anti-ban “virtue signaling” coming out of the Boston tech scene – much of it from the folks who hold the purse strings and know, from a business standpoint, what’s at stake for entrepreneurism when the country’s doors swing shut. 

Writing in Medium in a story titled, “We Stay. We Fight.,” partners of the venture capital fund Charles River Ventures (CRV) noted immigration as having “fundamental importance…to our innovation economy.” The piece goes on to say the firm will expand its support programs for its immigrant founders to provide Canadian office space to any who get turned away from the United States.

The New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) also put a stake in the ground on the question of immigration by urging its audience to support a local effort to “enshrine our values in Massachusetts law” by supporting the Massachusetts Safe Communities Act, which would keep state tax dollars from funding a Muslim registry or supporting federal efforts to deport immigrant families.

And BostInno reported that numerous Boston tech leaders have spoken up against the ban. Writer Dylan Martin asked the president of the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) to explain. Tom Hopcroft reportedly said President Trump’s order is, “bad policy, bad for business, which favors mobility of talent and ideas, and bad from a human perspective, as it breaks families apart and creates fear by targeting a specific religious group.”

As of early this week, the courts had suspended the executive order on immigration. Whatever happens next, some prominent leaders in Boston’s tech scene clearly intend to resist, along with nearly 100 Silicon Valley companies and many others. When you work with diverse businesses all over the world, across the country and here in Boston – Metis' home base  it's heartening to see so many local leaders join the fight to keep the national door open for innovation.  

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