February 23, 2016, Washington, D.C. – Thirty-five prominent industry professionals have published an open letter to Members of Congress voicing their support for the Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016 (S.2449/H.R.4380). The bipartisan legislation would strip the dual nationality provisions contained in the visa waiver program reforms passed into law late last year. Signatories to the letter include, Jack Dorsey (CEO, Twitter), Ed Catmull (President, Pixar, Disney Animation Studios), Paul Graham (Co-founder, YCombinator), Mike Moritz (Chairman, Sequoia Capital), Drew Houston (CEO Dropbox), and thirty others.
The prominent business leaders point out that singling people out 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,” the signatories write. “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.”
The letter further outlines that the restriction on visa-free travel will also harm U.S. business interests as the bureaucratic delays in required visas will reduce the agility and liberty of U.S. firms, make us less competitive in the global economy, and will ultimately cost jobs.
The business leaders endorse the Equal Protection in Travel Act as a solution to the dual national provisions contained in the reforms rushed through Congress in the aftermath of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris. “We encourage Congress to enhance security via technology leadership and international cooperation without creating barriers that isolate us from our global partners.”
The letter was spearheaded by Iranian American entrepreneur and angel investor, Ali Partovi. Based in San Francisco, Partovi is a co-founder of computer education non-profit Code.org, an active investor in sustainable food systems, and an early adviser at Dropbox.
PAAIA welcomes this letter and is helping disseminate it on Capitol Hill. While the Administration is expected to announce possible favorable guidelines on how it plans to implement dual national provisions today, we believe that it is critical for Congress to pass a permanent legislative fix to the discriminatory provisions of the law. Impacting a group of Americans based solely on their national origin is highly discriminatory and un-American and does little to address our nation’s security.
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