Travel ban impacting Austin entrepreneurs

Families wait for passengers following the travel ban. (NBC Photo)
Families wait for passengers following the travel ban. (NBC Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Donald Trump released the details of a new travel ban Monday. The White House still stops short of calling it a ban, rather, a 90-day “pause.”

A federal court struck down Trump’s original order.

The five major changes are:

  • The White House says the policy will start 10 days from now.
  • Iraq is no longer on the list.
  • The first ban affected seven predominantly Muslim countries. But officials said because the Iraqi government is now helping with increased vetting of its citizens coming to the U.S., the country is now off the list.
  • There is no longer an all-out ban on Syrian refugees.
  • It will not affect green card holders, nor will it revoke any visas obtained before January 27.

The order continues to have far reaching effects, including on those here in the tech startup world. KXAN connected with people at Capital Factory, a co-working space for entrepreneurs, to learn how the move has impacted them.

Capital Factory hails itself as Austin’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship, pulling together minds that create something new and break down barriers, but they say President Trump’s travel ban has created new barriers.

“A lot of these entrepreneurs are from countries all over the place that do require visas, and that right away starts taking us down the whole immigration issue,” Fred Schmidt, Capital Factory’s Director of International Affairs, said.

“I’m from Poland and I came here as a political refugee as a child myself,” Schmidt said, who helps global tech companies land in Austin. “We try to bring them into Texas and set up their U.S. companies here and create jobs in the Texas market.”

Schmidt said they were encouraged to learn of some changes to the revised travel ban, “only because it seems to be somewhat narrowed in scope.”

The ban honors green card and current visa holders, but blocks any new visas for citizens of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for at least 90 days.

Ryan Harmon, CEO of the startup “Press” says the company recently launched in three new markets. The app, which serves as an on demand laundry and dry cleaning pick up service, works with local dry cleaners that have immigrant families. Harmon says that’s just one of the ways his company is feeling the travel ban effect.

“We need engineers to develop the technology that these partners will operate on and it limits us on the talent that we can go acquire,” he said. “We’re constantly looking for the brightest minds, the best talent in the world and it limits us on where we can pull that talent from, and so I see that being a more longer term impact on tech in general.”

An impact, he says, on companies looking to make an impact. The new ban will take effect March 16.

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