Play Your Video Games
America may be the land of the free (relatively, like compared to North Korea), but it’s also apparently the home of the lazy.
Big Silicon Valley tech companies are stepping up lobbying efforts for immigration reform — not because their hearts bleed for the impoverished, but because we Yanks just aren’t cutting it vis-a-vis tech savvy. According to Reuters:
Let Them Work
Who says playing video games is nothing but a timesuck? The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that Jose Muñoz, an undocumented immigrant who’s been living in the U.S. since age 1, used his extensive Xbox history to stay in the country. Take that, Mom!
Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t do a tech ribbon cutting with reminding us that immigration is critical to our tech sectors future. And prominent venture capitalist Fred Wilson has written time and again about the importance of foreign workers in tech and the Startup Visa Act.
But over on the West Coast, they are doing some balls-out crazy stuff to make this happen. Blueseed, for example, a company backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, is constructing a floating city that will drop anchor 12 miles off the California coast. Transient techies will work on the boat by day, then head back to San Francisco to live by night, meaning they can avoid laws preventing immigrants from working at U.S. companies.
Coming to America
Master of ceremonies Nate Westheimer cut the demos short last night to introduce NY Tech Meetup to a surprise guest, a former Wall Street worker who had seen the light and invested his life savings into a tech startup instead.
“Hello innovators, entrepreneurs, or as I call you, my peeps,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who likes to break the ice with a little slang for the youths. “Thirty years ago I would have been sitting out there with you. I was unemployed, I had a lot of passion, but no business.”
If you’re looking for evidence of how poorly our existing immigration policy stymies America’s new tech economy, look no further than NPR. In a segment today, the station highlights the case of Andrew Nicol, a young Australian entrepreneur who attended law school in the U.S.
Mr. Nicol got an employer-sponsored visa after graduating that allowed him to stay and work in New York. But when he caught that infectious case of start-up fever going around town, and wanted to quit his job and start his own company, immigration policy got in the way. No corporate law job, no visa.
Mayor Bloomberg’s strongly-worded call for immediate immigration reform yesterday has been drawing praise from some of the biggest names from Silicon Alley out to the Valley. Mr. Bloomberg’s speech tying immigration to innovation clearly struck a chord with those in the tech sector who have been struggling to find talent to keep pace with their growth—an issue causing furrowed brows among New York City’s start-up founders.
“It’s what I call national suicide – and that’s not hyperbole,” said Bloomberg. “Every day that we fail to fix our broken immigration laws is a day that we inflict a wound on our economy. Today, we may have turned away the next Albert Einstein or Sergey Brin. Tomorrow, we may turn away the next Levi Strauss or Jerry Yang.”
As Fred Wilson put it, the Mayor’s plan calls for a green card stapled to every diploma for an advanced degree.
“We are investing millions of dollars to educate these students at our leading universities, and then giving the economic dividends back to our competitors–for free. The two parties should be able to agree on a policy that allows any university graduate with an advanced degree in an essential field to obtain a green card–and a chance to help us grow our economy. We must allow these students to stay here and be part of our future or we will watch our future disappear with them.”