What Trump's Immigration Ban Means For Managing Remote Teams

Episode 17

In this Stretch Goals Quick Hit, we’re going to talk about what Trump’s immigration ban means for managing remote teams.

Find us on Twitter @The_Scott_Davis or @RobDickersonJr


Robert: In this Stretch Goals podcast Quick Hit, we’re going to talk about what Trump’s immigration ban means for managing remote teams.

This is the Stretch Goals Podcast where each week we’ll share insights and lessons learned based on our experiences as entrepreneurs. We’ll challenge you to create ambitious goals as you start and grow your business. I’m your host, Robert Dickerson.

Scott: And I’m Scott Davis. All right, so obviously we’ve all heard the heading, right? We’ve all heard this immigration ban and we’ve stopped people from entering the country and all that stuff.

Robert: No one’s getting in, man. No one’s getting in. Why are you here? We need to be at the airports. They’re like protesting at the airports.

Scott: I know. The first thing is we really need to understand what the immigration ban is as it stands right now. This is no political favoritism here on either side, because I could care less, but the facts of it are it’s a temporary ban really designed to plug a hole in the dam so that they can change the structure of the dam. So they want to temporary pause it so that they can think about how they could actually make adjustments to make the system a little more bullet proof, hopefully keeping terrorists out or people who want to do damage to the country. So, understanding that, they’ve put this pause so that they can figure that out because it takes time. You could get into the debate on whether that’s right or wrong to do. Whatever. That’s not what we’re here to talk about. We’re here to talk about the facts.

The other thing to mention is the countries that are specifically impacted by this ban. The way that the media’s portraying this, it seems like it’s like every country in the world except for maybe England and some other favorites are banned. No, that’s not the case. The fact is it’s Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. Very hot zone of the Middle East and countries that we’ve got reason to believe may have some type of ties to terrorism. You notice who’s not on there? Afghanistan. We’ve had a tumultuous relationship with them and they’re not on there. So that’s the facts. So how does this affect us? What are your immediate thoughts, Rob, in terms of managing a remote work force based on those facts?

Robert: Well, I mean, I’ve hired people from around the world. Not specifically from those countries, but I was thinking about it. I’ve hired people from Australia, the Netherlands, India, the UK, Canada, Puerto Rico. So I think as a business, business owners are hiring people globally now and so maybe some of the push back from this immigration order is that okay, it might start with these couple countries, but then is it going to expand? That’s the fear, right? That it expands into other countries and it affects even more people. I don’t want to get too much into politics here. I understand why they did it, just because there is a lot of terrorist groups within those countries, but there’s also a lot of good people that work in the U.S. that work for companies around the world. So it’s kind of a slippery slope there and I think that’s what a lot of people are calling out.

But I think we need to look at how people are managing remote teams now and how our businesses are global now and you don’t necessarily need to be in America to contribute to companies. I know we were talking a little bit about this before the podcast, but if you look at the big ones like Apple and Google, I mean, they’re hiring people around the world. They have huge teams around the world. I’ve even talked to companies … I was talking to a CEO a little while back and he was talking about how they have teams in the U.S. that work and then they have teams in India and they basically write code 24 hours a day. They hand it off. So that’s what a lot of big companies are doing. So I think the fear is that, if we think about the American dream that people won’t be able to come to America and live that American dream. So I think it’s kind of maybe two things: It’s that fear that people can’t come in, but then it’s also from, as a business owner growing your business, how do you continue to engage people from around the world and get these people to contribute to your company?

Scott: Yeah and that’s important. You hit on very key topics. Number one, let’s look at Apple. They’re actually considering a lawsuit against the government or Trump or whoever. I don’t know. Because a lot of their workforce is remote. Now I don’t know if it’s in these specific countries, but maybe it is. If you look at some of these countries that we listed, they may not be big in the tech scene, which you and I are familiar with, but they’re big in biotechnology [crosstalk 00:04:38], medical space.

Robert: Yeah, scientists.

Scott: Right, exactly. So they’re affecting people just like you and me in a different industry who rely on resources from that part of the world. So that’s definitely affecting people. It may not be affecting us. It may not be affecting people who are listing, but it is affecting some subset of the industry and the business world. But to go back to your point: How do we manage resources once this immigration ban thing is finalized? Right now, it doesn’t mean anything other than they can’t come to the country. But, we could go as far as making assumptions on if they change this policy and they really lock things down, there may be a lock down on foreign transactions. What if you can’t make payments to somebody in Syria because of however this policy adjustment may go? Again, that’s making assumptions, but we have to ask that question. What happens if this immigration ban becomes permanent or becomes more structured and rigid such that you can’t send financial transactions to these countries or a broader list of countries? Maybe you can’t send any money to India. Well, that affects what you and I do. I don’t know. So we have to think about those things.

Robert: Well, I think it’s a little bit counter intuitive to creating American jobs if you restrict people from coming into the country, right? So companies, to get around this, they’re going to maybe open more remote offices or employ more people remotely, right? So these people, if they can’t get in the U.S., they can still go contribute at another offsite location right?

Scott: What they’re going to do is they’re going to send Americans to go run those offices. So we’re actually exporting our people instead of importing new people.

Robert: Exactly so it’s counter intuitive to what Trump’s trying to do and a lot of the growth is in those jobs where people are immigrating here to work, you know, in the tech … In the stem, right? In science, technology, medicine, all these types of jobs where we need people, where we lack talent. So we need people from all these countries to come and contribute. Even as a small business owner, you’re looking, you know, Eastern Europe, some of those countries have a ton of great … I know from a development perspective, have a ton of great developers. I know a lot of people that hire a lot of people from there just because they’re very good and it’s a lower cost to hire those types of people. You can find a lot of people willing to work and so it’s great. I just worry that … I don’t want to limit that hiring of people from around the world because I think it stymies growth of different companies.

Scott: Really, we can’t … The country can’t prevent terrorists from entering the country forever. You just can’t. There’s always ways that they’re going to be able to get in. So if that’s the goal of the immigration ban is to focus on terrorism, you know, you’re never going to be able to fully achieve that. You could lock the country down, you can build the wall in the Mexico, you could make a permanent ban on every country in the world, terrorists will still get in. They will find a way. That’s just the way the world works. But, I agree with you, we can’t … Even if they make this refinement to this and they make the process of getting into the country with a visa or a green card more refined, you could have a nuclear physicist from London come to the United States and then all of a sudden he decides he wants to go rogue and blow up a building.

I mean, we can’t stop that. Rob, you could go crazy and become a terrorist. You’re already here. We can’t fix this problem by locking the borders down. So that goes back to what you were saying which is, America’s based on all these cultures and everything coming together and everything. That’s how the world works. We can’t make things better if we don’t have all the talent here, including … That’s what the issue is. We’ve got talent here, but our talent is more expensive and then we’ve got other areas of the world that have expertise in certain areas and we want to bring them here to make ourselves smarter. So it’s just a lot of things. I don’t think there’s a solution.

Robert: As a company, I think, to hedge your bet, you have to be thinking about: How do I manage these people remotely? A lot of people are already doing that through tools we’ve talked about like Slack and things like that where you don’t have to be necessarily in the U.S. to work and then you can also look at opening up offices outside the U.S. as well to kind of hedge your bets if you can’t get the talent into the U.S. I mean, I know a lot of big companies are doing that, but even as a small company, maybe you can set up a remote location managed by someone, a senior developer or something if you’re a software shop or … You know, kind of manage that. So you can think about that to kind of hedge your bets if you’re working with people in these countries and you want to continue and employ them.

Scott: I think really what it is, is right now, those specific countries, those seven countries … Yeah, seven countries that we mentioned, right now, they can’t come in the country. So if you’re affected by that somehow, do what Rob just suggested. Set up Slack, set up different mechanisms, have video conferences, make everything work except for the in-person stuff. We do that everyday. It’s not a big deal. You just have to get used to the process and make it work for you. Then what does it mean going down the line? Nobody knows yet. We don’t know what this policy’s going to look like and it may be completely temporary and then go away or it might be more rigid. We don’t know, but as you said, we live in a world where we can work remotely and we’ve got lots and lots of utilities to do that so [crosstalk 00:10:08].

Robert: I don’t think it should scare you away from employing people around the world because there’s just too much good talent to ignore and to just say, “Okay, I’m only going to hire U.S. based workers,” or whatnot. I mean, I think the talent is never … The growth of businesses globally is not going to go away because I’ve seen even for myself as a small business that I’m able to hire these people. So that’s just going to grow, I feel like.

Scott: Yeah, I mean, look at us. We’re in different time zones. We’re not in the same place. We do this podcast and it just works. It’s no different. Make your business work the same way. You have different hiccups and-

Robert: Technology enables all these different kinds of things so utilize that to help grow your business.

Scott: Yeah, exactly. I think it means nothing right now. You just have to think outside the box.

Robert: Yep.

Scott: Don’t feed into the panic. The media is horrible.

Robert: Don’t feed the fake news stories on Twitter, please.

Scott: That’s right.

Robert: All right, see you next week. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Stretch Goals Podcast. You can access the show notes for this episode and listen to other episodes by heading over to stretchgoals.fm.

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Each week we'll share insights and lessons learned to help you create ambitious goals for your business.

Robert Dickerson


Robert Dickerson is the Founder and CEO of Mapout a mobile learning platform that uses video courses to educate customers and train employees. He helps companies develop and launch their products.

Scott Davis


Scott Davis is the Founder and CEO of MobX, a mobile development software agency. He has 20 years of experience developing software for Government, Finance, Sports and the Telecommunications industry.