Immigration reform is a hot-topic issue in the United States. There are many who are now vocal in their stance about what Congress should legislate, but while their opinions may differ about how it should come about, all sides share one thing in common: they want reform to happen now. Today, business collaboration service Convo is throwing their hat into the ring and is sending a message to the country’s leaders demanding immediate action.
Within the technology community, many have been fighting in favor of an immigration bill that would allow more non-US nationals into the country to help promote innovation in the country. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined forces with some of the industry’s elite to create the March for Innovation initiative last February to help persuade lawmakers to craft a bill that would benefit the industry.
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Last March, 100 technology executives including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr, Eventbrite CEO Kevin Hartz, Accel Partners partner Jim Breyer, the Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro, and others signed and submitted a letter to both President Barack Obama and leaders in Congress requesting immigration reform for high-skilled workers.
Convo’s message today comes in the form of a YouTube video released by President Obama’s political action committee, Organizing for America. Company founder and CEO Faizan Buzdar speaks throughout this three minute video about how America needs immigration reform or it risks losing out on innovations — he says “economies are going to be built on innovation.”
Buzdar talks about his experience growing his company by setting up an office in San Francisco. One of the things he immediately thought about was having to deal with immigration. However, to his disbelief, instead of it being a few weeks, it has taken more than a year to receive a visa — and this is something he says has a big impact on his business.
According to the Kauffman Foundation, over the past six years, nearly half of the tech companies started in Silicon Valley were by non-US born founders. Buzdar says that while groups like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us are advocating for helping increase the number of H1-B visas, his case is also about supporting those individuals eager to create a business in the US.
Whether Buzdar’s video will make any difference is up for debate — the Obama campaign has been promoting these opinions as something that represents the American people in the hopes it will motivate his colleagues on Capitol Hill to respond. Last month, TIME magazine reported that there are those who want the US to focus on hiring US-born first before bringing in workers from outside the country.
University of California economist Gordon Hanson said in a 2011 study that “Immigrants are far more likely than natives to study science and engineering and more likely to produce innovations in the form of patents.” There are those in the industry that believe the US should focus on educating its citizens in order to excel in these subjects instead of promoting it with non-citizens.
However, as we said earlier, while both sides disagree on principle, what they do agree on is that some form of action is needed now.
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