Opinion: Trump’s immigration policies are a windfall for China and India

During a visit to the United States in 2000, then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was offered high praise for the booming American economy and its ripple effect on the rest of the world.

“Your successes have put India in a very positive light and have shown us what is possible in India,” Vajpayee to me in a one-on-one meeting during his visit. He also said he would love to see Indian-American entrepreneurs return home to help build India’s nascent technology industry.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all granted him his wish with their flawed immigration policies. The U.S. admitted hundreds of thousands of foreign students and engineers on temporary visas but did not have the fortitude to expand the numbers of green cards. The result was that the wait times for permanent resident visas began to exceed 10 years for Indian and Chinese immigrants and they began returning home.

Today, with his constant tirades against immigrants, particularly from what he calls “shithole countries,” President Donald Trump, is giving other countries the greatest gift of all: causing the trickle of returning talent to become a flood.

This gift has already done wonders for China. One measure of the globalization of innovation is the number of technology start-ups with post-money valuations of $1 billion or higher. These companies are commonly called “unicorns.” As recently as 2000, nearly all of these companies were in the U.S., and countries like China and India could only dream of being home to a Google, Amazon or Facebook.

India is about to experience a technology boom that will transform the country.

But now, according to the South China Morning Post, China has 98 unicorns, or 39 percent of the world’s 252 unicorns. In comparison, America has 106, or 42 per cent, and India has 10 unicorns, or 4 percent. An analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy revealed that 51 percent of the unicorns in the U.S. have at least one immigrant founder. It is clear how shortsighted the U.S. government has been.

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