×

To stick it to Trump, firm funds immigrant start-up visas

One venture capital firm said it would fund visas for immigrant founders in explicit opposition to Donald Trump.

Charles River Ventures (CRV) will cover the legal costs of U.S. visas for any founders in CRV's portfolio of start-up investments, and has created a fellowship program for immigrant entrepreneurs, the firm said in a Wednesday blog post. The informal fellowship, which has already done one investment, covers funding, support and office space.

"Donald Trump's anti-immigration statements are diametrically opposed to the core values of entrepreneurship," CRV's post said.


CRV's team (Source: Charles River Ventures)

It comes as Republican presidential hopeful Trump has called for "immigration moderation," including raising wages to limit H-1B visas, which grant U.S. immigration and residency rights to foreign workers qualified in so-called "specialty occupations." Trump said prioritizing domestic workers will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley.

Danny Crichton, an investor at the 46-year-old Silicon Valley start-up investment fund, said that the problems in Silicon Valley should be solved by the world's best talent, and that broad policy changes around education and mentorship will bridge America's technology skills gap better than visa reform alone.

Technology CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg have argued that each talented specialist on an H1-B visa creates two or three American jobs in return. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's technology plan proposes Green Cards for advanced science, math and technology graduates from accredited institutions, and supports visas for top entrepreneurs.

Still, Trump has at least one stalwart supporter among start-up investors: PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who spoke at the Republican National Convention in July.

George Zachary, a partner at CRV, said that his success, like that of many others at the firm, was driven by the opportunities given to immigrants. His father came to the U.S. through Ellis Island and started a lightbulb company that put Zachary through college.

"I don't think it's just a bubble in the 650 Palo Alto area code," said Crichton, who said he's gotten positive feedback on the fellowship. He points to companies like Google, which employs thousands and was co-founded by Russian-born Sergey Brin. "Obviously Silicon Valley is on the side of progress ... but I don't think this is an echo chamber. Would I rather have Facebook, Amazon and Apple built inside the U.S.? Or in China?"

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.