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Amid furor over immigration ban, PE stays quiet

  • Executive order condemned by tech leaders, Democrats
  • ACG President: Not “a single comment from anyone” on the ban
  • AIC declines comment

Lobbying organizations representing private equity industry interests on Capitol Hill are remaining quiet on President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban of immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa.

“Honestly, I have not had a single comment from anyone on the travel ban issued by President Trump,” Association for Corporate Growth President and CEO Gary LaBranche said in an email. “On the other hand, many members have commented favorably on the executive order limiting the issuance of new regulations.”

The order, issued Jan. 27, sparked large protests throughout the United States and prompted condemnation from international leaders. Reaction from the business community has been quiet or negative. Leaders at several companies, including Coca-Cola, Ford and Goldman Sachs issued statements opposing the policy.

“Time will tell,” said Luisa Guerra, communications director for the Small Business Investor Alliance. “Not that we can say at the moment. We’re still getting member input and seeing how things fall into place.”

James Maloney of the American Investment Council, which represents the interests of 39 PE firms, declined comment.

“It’s tough to say how LP organizations are processing these developments in real time,” said Institutional Limited Partners Association Managing Director Jennifer Choi in an email.

“We haven’t been hearing anything on this directly over the last week, but my guess is the [executive order] is raising questions if not concerns, particularly for venture investors.”

Many predict the executive order, which some have referred to as a “Muslim ban,” could seriously affect personnel at technology-sector businesses. Google distributed a memo indicating the order would prevent 187 foreign-born employees from entering the U.S. Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a statement opposing the ban, as did Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“The precedent of invalidating already-issued visas and green cards should be extremely troubling for immigrants of any country or for anyone who thinks their contributions to the U.S. are important,” Y Combinator Founder Sam Altman wrote in a blog post. “This is not just a Muslim ban. This is a breach of America’s contract with all the immigrants in the nation.”

While the executive order doesn’t explicitly target Muslims, the seven countries listed in the ban are predominantly Muslim. On the campaign trail, the president repeatedly called for a Muslim-immigration ban. Trump confidante and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News the order was written to function as a de facto Muslim ban, and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has speculated the order could be expanded to include other countries.

Democratic lawmakers spoke out strongly against the bill and certain Republicans, including Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), issued joint statements calling the order a “self-inflicted wound” in the fight against terrorism.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) issued a statement supporting the ban on Friday, but later walked back some of his praise in a Jan. 31 news conference.

“We need to pause and we need to make sure the vetting standards are up to snuff,” Ryan said.

“I think it’s regrettable that there was some confusion on the rollout of this. No one wanted to see people with green cards or special immigrant visas like translators get caught up in all of this.”

Action Item: For more information about Association for Corporate Growth, visit www.acg.org/

President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017, acknowledges the audience after taking the oath of office. Photo courtesy Reuters/Jim Bourg