Privacy SOS

Mass. high tech leaders urge Governor Baker to defend immigrants

In a letter signed by two dozen technology experts and business leaders, the ACLU and the Alliance for Business Leadership call on Governor Charlie Baker to continue to use his bully pulpit to protest against discriminatory federal immigration policies, and to support state legislation to protect Massachusetts residents from federal overreach. The letter asks Governor Baker to use his “influence and office to fiercely defend the values that make [Massachusetts] strong, prosperous, welcoming, and free.”

“Business leaders like to focus on the bottom line, and the bottom line here is that immigrants are vital to Massachusetts’ economic success,” alliance president Jesse Mermell said. “Twenty-one percent of entrepreneurs in Massachusetts are immigrants, 58 percent of Fortune 500 companies based here were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants, and immigrants make up 18 percent of all people employed in our state. Standing up for the Commonwealth’s immigrant community is not only standing up for diversity and inclusion, it is standing up for the future of our economy.”

Drafted in response to the Trump administration’s Muslim ban Executive Order, which has since been blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the letter calls on Governor Baker to take action to defend the Massachusetts high tech economy, which like many powerful US industries including healthcare and biotech, benefits from fair, just, and transparent immigration policy. (The Trump administration has said it soon plans to release a substantially similar Executive Order on immigration, meaning this particular fight is far from over.)

The technology leaders write:

As business and civil society leaders, we worry about the executive order’s impact on the Massachusetts economy, and more broadly, about the future of civil rights and civil liberties under the current federal administration.

Our state boasts the highest number of technology workers per capita in the United States in no small part because Massachusetts is a wonderful place to live. Freedom is a key reason why so many people come here to work, have children, and raise families—among them the thousands of immigrants who come to the United States seeking a better life, and in turn enrich our communities, businesses, and economy with their creativity, culture, and intellect.

To keep Massachusetts attractive to immigrants and businesses, we respectfully ask you to take the following action: (1) continue to raise your voice to speak out against the Trump administration’s Muslim ban, both publicly and behind the scenes; and (2) support state legislation to protect Massachusetts residents from discriminatory federal policy.

A bill currently before the state legislature, the Fundamental Freedoms Act (SD992/HD1156), would prevent state and local authorities from assisting the federal government in the creation of discriminatory “registry” systems, which the Trump administration has vowed to do. The bill also would prevent government surveillance of people based solely on their protected political speech.

Among the signatories are MIT Media Lab Director Joichi Ito; Danny Weitzner, Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab; Paul Sagan, Director and Former CEO of Akamai Technologies; Joshua Boger, Founder, Director and Former CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Tim Rowe, Founder and CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center; Jody Rose, Executive Director of the New England Venture Capital Association; and Tom Hopcroft, President & CEO of the Mass Technology Leadership Council.

Read the letter and see the complete list of signatories.

© 2017 ACLU of Massachusetts.