February 03, 2017

Landing in Silicon Valley. Credit: Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr / Creative Commons

President Trump’s recent ruling on immigration and refugees looks uncomfortably familiar. And that doesn’t bode well for our economy.

Walter Isaacson - author and president of The Aspen Institute - talks about the immigrants behind some of the greatest inventions of the past century, and what a stricter immigration stance could mean for the future of innovation.

Three Takeaways:

  • Trump’s phrase, “America First,” has an uncomfortable historical connotation. “That phrase was meant to stop America from admitting refugees [during World War II],” Isaacson explains. “[It] was against Jewish refugees, against any involvement in the European conflict.” 
  • Exclusion of immigrants and refugees usually doesn’t work out great for the originating country, says Isaacson. “The rise of Hitler led to the expulsion of a whole lot of scientists… [and] what do they have in common? They end up inventing the atomic bomb.” 
  • Isaacson says that Silicon Valley can thank migrants for its success. “You look at Google, Microsoft, even Steve Jobs, whose father was a Syrian refugee. These great companies have been propelled by the power of immigration and refugees.”

More Reading:

immigration, Walter Isaacson, Kara Miller, Sci and Tech

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