Many tech industry leaders condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to end an immigration policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook are just a few of the businessmen speaking out in defense of immigrants. The impending threat of mass deportation threatens the nation’s startup ecosystem.

Research by the National Venture Capital Association, surveying venture-backed companies that went public between 2006 and 2012, revealed one-third had at least one immigrant founder.

Refugees and immigrants are a core pillar of Silicon Valley’s success. Even beyond California’s tech-savvy enclaves, entrepreneurs worldwide are pioneering technologies inspired by migrant experiences.

In the Palestinian city Ramallah, the economic heart of the West Bank, a startup called Souktel is helping Syrian refugees build new lives around the world. The app connects migrants with legal advice, via the American Bar Association, in addition to platforms for job hunting, visa guidance and enrolling children in schools. Forbes reported over 10,000 Syrians have used Souktel’s mobile service so far.

“Our core technology platform allows content to be delivered across multiple channels — SMS, mobile audio, mobile messenger — at the same time, so that smartphone users and basic mobile users have equitable access to life-changing information,” Souktel CEO Jacob Korenblum told Forbes.

Syrian refugee Finland Syrian refugees, Lama Asaaid Alkhateb and her family wait to be board on a special charter flight for Finland. Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty

Meanwhile in Finland, the like-minded fintech startup MONI is creating blockchain identity solutions for both “first world bank customers and the unbanked of many developing markets,” according to the company’s website. Its investors include the Digital Currency Group, one of the most influential North American firms funding bitcoin startups and blockchain technology projects.

MONI offers a prepaid card connected to a blockchain-powered financial services app. The Finnish Immigration Service has reportedly been working with these prepaid Mastercards for two years, distributing them among unbanked asylum seekers. Today, the program serves thousands of active cardholders, each with his or her own unique blockchain identity.

Jouko Salonen, director of the Finnish Immigration Service, told the MIT Technology Review this marriage between fintech and blockchain technology solved several immigration challenges at once. This Nordic use case illustrates the pragmatic potential of international blockchain identities, such as those already offered by Bitnation, a blockchain-powered government platform with more than 5,3000 citizens worldwide.

Perhaps MONI’s crux innovation is the way it created a familiar interface for value transfers via public blockchain networks, technically similar to bitcoin payments in more ways than one. Their system packages blockchain transfers inside the user experience of swiping a debit card. Users don’t need to necessarily understand how their digital keys work in order to use them. Today, one of the biggest problems facing new cryptocurrency users is the learning curve surrounding new digital habits. MONI just indirectly showed how the emerging crop of cryptocurrency debit cards could make life easier for both regulators and immigration authorities.  

The rise of tech-savvy tools for immigration isn’t just a humanitarian trend.

Innovation for undocumented people creates new business opportunities. MONI’s service is currently spreading among Finnish beta testers as the startup plans the imminent launch of a pan-European consumer product. A MONI account costs €2 per month, around $2.38, plus small transaction fees for each purchase or money transfer. Remittance, when migrants transfer money to distant loved ones, already powers a huge chunk of profits from young startups, like WorldRemit, all the way to tech industry giants such as PayPal. The global fintech ecosystem grows even more interconnected every day.

There’s no way to separate immigration from high-tech innovation. At least, not according to executive leaders at Facebook, Amazon and Google. “Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy. With them, we grow and create jobs,” FWS.us, a tech industry advocacy group, said in a statement defending the DACA program. “They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”