Coming to America
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.”