The Real Deal New York

Sam Zell speaks out against growing wave of “very dangerous” anti-immigration sentiment

Real estate billionaire said pro-migration policies made the US a world leader
February 02, 2017 04:30PM

Sam Zell and protesters calling for an end to the travel ban in Washington D.C. (Credit: Getty Images)

Sam Zell thinks the wave of anti-immigration sentiment is “very dangerous” to the future of United States.

Speaking at a conference in Florida, the Equity Residential founder, whose Polish parents immigrated to the U.S. four months before he was born in 1941, said people are troubled by change because they “got here first.” His comments drew applause from the audience of wealthy individuals, according to Bloomberg.

“The United States has been the leader in the world for 200 years because it’s had a very aggressive immigration policy,” said Zell, according to Bloomberg. “I think that this current period of anti-immigration is very dangerous to the future of our country.”

President Donald Trump’s ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations last week has sparked harsh criticism from several high-profile members of the business community. Real estate players — some of Trump’s biggest backers — have, for the most part, stayed silent. A few members of the residential community, however, have made their displeasure clear. In a letter to agents and staff, Robert Reffkin, CEO of Compass, denounced the president’s order as “dangerously misguided and fundamentally un-American.”

Last year, Zell told Forbes that he cannot tolerate any form of illegal immigration and that he promotes what he calls “intelligent immigration,” where the best and brightest are given priority. [Bloomberg]Miriam Hall