Biotech Execs Slam Trump’s "Misguided" Immigration Ban
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More than 150 biotech executives and investors took a stand against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, saying the controversial executive order threatens to undermine a multibillion-dollar industry that relies on a diverse workforce.
Trump’s order — currently suspended while a federal appeals court weighs its merits — barred nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US, regardless of their legal status. For biotech, an industry that relies heavily on foreign-born workers, the ban is particularly ominous, executives wrote in a letter to Nature Biotechnology.
“If this misguided policy is not reversed, America is at risk of losing its leadership position in one of its most important sectors, one that will shape the world in the 21st century,” the letter reads. “Indeed, it will harm an industry dominated by smaller companies and startups, the very kind of industry the administration has said it wants to support. It will slow the fight against the many diseases that afflict us, as well as carry negative economic consequences for the United States.”
The letter is biotech’s latest and most organized castigation of Trump’s executive order, following a barrage of tweets, blog posts, and public statements from startup leaders and investors over the past week. Much like the tech sector, which has vocally opposed the travel ban, biotech has quickly and uniformly weighed in on the issue.
Among the letter’s 165 signatories are leaders from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Bluebird Bio, Acorda Therapeutics, Incyte, Atlas Venture, and Third Rock Ventures.
Entirely missing are representatives of Big Pharma, which has been comparatively silent on the issue. Among the world’s largest drug makers, only one, Allergan, has criticized the executive order. The likes of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, and Novartis have either stayed silent or issued statements that expressed support for affected employees but took no stance on the order itself.