Chapter Program Launches New Projects

Posted by on October 01, 2014

As part of our ongoing efforts to engage members of the tech community in helping to reform our country’s broken immigration system, we've relaunched our Chapter Program in cities across the nation. Supporters are harnessing their skills and passions to launch three brand new projects: the Democracy Project, the 2.0 Project, and the Co-Founders Project. Read on to get an insider's peek at our launch events in Boston, Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco! 


Q&A with David Smooke of SmartRecruiters

Posted by on September 25, 2014 sat down with David Smooke, SmartRecruiters Content Marketing Director, to talk about SmartRecruiters’ vision, his experience as the company’s first American hire, and why he comes to work everyday. Tell us about SmartRecruiters. How was the company founded and what does it do?

David: SmartRecruiters is the technology to find and hire great people. Salesforce to sales is SmartRecruiters to recruiting. It’s the management of all existing and potential candidates, coupled with, access to other recruitment service providers and applications to find and evaluate a business’ next hire. Everything hiring is everything we help you do.

 Jerome Ternynck, of France, founded SmartRecruiters in late 2010. I joined in early 2011 as his company’s first American hire. You were there at the beginning, and now SmartRecruiters has hired dozens of Americans. Can you talk about your experience watching the company grow?

What I’ve always admired about Jerome is his sheer will to execute. What is it that makes an idea a company, and what is it that takes a company to a true market changing enterprise?

I wouldn’t trade my apprenticeship with Jerome for 1 million Snickers bars, and I am a hungry man. In late 2010, I quit my job as a small town Pennsylvania newspaper reporter after I had saved enough money to move to San Francisco. In my head, it’s the city of opportunity. The city where the quality of ideas trumps status quo of business processes. I drove across the country with the confidence to find work when I arrived. And just maybe, I read too many Beat novels and TechCrunch stories. I applied to job after job, not hearing back, or hearing that I was unqualified, or hearing maybe we can meet next week. I know now, successful startups are made by executing today.

I found SmartRecruiters on Linkedin, sent a short message to Jerome and he responded in 6 hours. Nothing too elaborate - just like a quick message from a friend. When it comes to humanizing recruitment, he’s walking the walk. We met and I thought: here’s this crazy Frenchman who is speaking my language; a language of “Why Not?” He sees how businesses should recruit... and it makes sense to me. It’s funny, you meet people all the time, and within a long minute it becomes clear: it’s about how they see the world - and not where they’re from - that matters. This vision has led SmartRecruiters to help businesses hire for 500,000+ positions. What motivates you to come to work every day?

On the walk to work, I know the steps I made yesterday will make today’s steps more impactful. It’s all aggregate. Working for new business with a real purpose, a startup who is driving down costs for the small business, a startup who is bettering processes for the enterprise, a startup who sees the big picture - real business growth for all who meet the company - is the way I want to work in my life.

Leadership Change

Posted by on September 19, 2014

Over the last year and a half, has been instrumental in leading the fight for comprehensive immigration reform in D.C., and all of you, as our supporters, partners, and volunteers, made that possible. Today, we wanted to share an important change with you.

Effective immediately, Joe Green has resigned as President of, and Executive Director Todd Schulte will be taking over the leadership role of the organization as acting President. While has achieved important milestones in the fight to reform immigration laws, Joe and the Board agreed a change in leadership was necessary.

Todd has been with since June 2013, and has been instrumental in building the case for immigration reform in DC. His prior experience as Chief of Staff at Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting President Obama's re-election, will ensure continues its momentum for reform. Todd will continue to work closely with Rob Jesmer, who will remain’ Campaign Manager, and with the rest of the excellent senior staff and team.

“As the mid-term elections approach, the fight for immigration reform is more important than ever,” said Schulte. “ remains on the right track to continue all the great work that our supporters, employees, partners and volunteers have made possible, and we’re excited about our future.”

We’re going to stay focused on our mission of mobilizing the tech community in support of policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st century, starting with comprehensive immigration reform.

Thank you, as always, for your support in this important effort to urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.


An Entrepreneur Who Risked It All

Posted by on September 08, 2014 chatted with entrepreneur Mike Galarza about his company Entryless, his tumultuous experience with our immigration system, and why he decided to risk everything to pursue his dream of working in Silicon Valley.

mikelabel.png What is Entryless and how did you go about starting it?

Mike: I led a finance and accounting team for a large manufacturer. While there, I realized that cost management and financial compliance is any company’s worst nightmare. After talking with my peers, I learned that they were experiencing the same problem within their own companies.

I decided to put that to an end and created Entryless. My turning point was inspired from a talk by Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel at Stanford University. His talk ignited my entrepreneurial journey.  Now based out of Menlo Park, California, Entryless transforms the way businesses manage cost. We provide real time financial compliance to a business’s cloud accounting system. Entryless accomplishes this by automatically capturing bills with our document recognition software and syncing records to widely-used cloud applications. In turn, we have received an innovation award from IBM and I was honored to be listed as a prominent immigrant in technology by Business Insider. Walk us through your immigration process. What were the biggest challenges you faced in trying to come to the United States?

Mike: I dedicated an enormous amount of effort – including many sleepless nights – to earning my visa. As an entrepreneur, I was already challenged with creating a company out of nothing but an idea to create something new – but going through the immigration process proved to be an even greater challenge than starting the company.

Originally, I came to the U.S. on a TN visa under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through a previous employer, but later I found this visa to be restricting. I wanted to start Entryless, but I could not resign from my job and stay in the country to start my own company with a TN visa. So I juggled my time between my full-time job during the day and spent all night to develop my company. In order to realize my dreams, I had to change the status of my TN visa to an E2 investment visa with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

There was a greater risk of deportation for me during this time. A simple clerical error could have extinguished my dream to build Entryless in the U.S. My future and the future of my company was on the line. I was inspired to work even harder because I had to prove to the visa offices that my new business would deliver a unique value to the U.S. economy. To even apply for the E2 investor visa, I had to leave the life I had built in the U.S. behind and travel back to Mexico to submit my application. I knew that if the consul denied my visa, my startup was doomed and I might not have been able to return to the U.S. During this climactic face-to-face meeting with the United States Consul at their Embassy in Mexico City, I proved I could solve a significant problem facing scores of companies. I was granted the E2 Investor Visa and Entryless became a reality.

Mike_Entryless3_Final.png How has being in the Bay Area affected your business? How would you imagine your business would be different if you had founded it anywhere else?

Mike: Silicon Valley is a support system for entrepreneurship and a network where every entrepreneur can find what they need to be successful. Resources and inspiration are abundant. There is no other network like Silicon Valley.

I would never have been able to launch Entryless without being in Silicon Valley and immersed in the network it provides. Entryless is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley and owns a large customer-base in the U.S. We are undergoing an aggressive market expansion in Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada among other countries and we’re are rapidly growing 60% month-to-month across all regions. Where else could you see that kind of growth? Why is it important for people in tech to get involved in politics? How can tech influence D.C.?

Mike: From my experience with politics – you don't see immediate results in politics as you do in the tech or entrepreneurship world. This does not motivate the people in tech to be engaged at the influential level of involvement needed in politics. I’ve met and heard personally from CEO’s of public companies who have gone every year for the past decade to D.C. to speak with politicians in order to get immigration reform done. To date, every year has shown the same disappointment from Washington. Immigration reform has yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel – it’s a tunnel blocked with conflicting political interests damaging the potential the U.S. has to capture and create value. Instead we’re faced with the reality that the U.S. is sending back to foreign nations some of the smartest and brightest instead of making measured efforts to retain them and help create American jobs.

Real life stories get lost in a myriad of political issues. It is crucial that people in tech get involved in politics, specifically in the immigration debate. Sharing your story, or a co-worker’s story, about overcoming the problems our broken immigration system creates for people in tech helps politicians understand the reality of the current broken immigration system and, most importantly, the impact of their political actions.

MG_QuoteGraphic_Final.png Why is immigration reform critically important?

Mike: I have been really fortunate to meet with a wide variety of people who are battling our broken immigration system – from DREAMers battling their own way up, to politicians, to CEO’s of public companies, and my peers. The immigration process for foreign-born founders needs to be accelerated properly if the U.S. wants to remain at the top attracting and retaining the smartest and the brightest across all nations. This is a critical time for U.S. immigration policy. Immigration Reform cannot wait for the next session of Congress in January 2015.


It is heartbreaking to see DREAMers fighting every day for their dreams, only to have their aspirations blocked by the current immigration system. They’re unable to participate and contribute to the U.S., after being raised in American schools and neighborhoods.

It’s up to all of us to tell our government that we want an immigration system that captures value, keeps our nation attracting the smartest and brightest workers, and maintains American competitiveness to keep our economy thriving.



Introducing the Apprentice Program

Posted by on September 05, 2014


About the Program

The Apprentice Program is unlike any internship. Our apprentices contact hundreds of companies, pitch ideas at tech meetups, and meet with CEOs, CTOs, and founders of businesses to learn about the political issues that affect the tech community. Our apprentices have the opportunity to carry out cutting edge qualitative research on what political issues matter most to the tech community.

How The Program Works

This program offers experience developing communication skills. It can be difficult to email a representative you don't know at a major tech company, to sit down and host a conversation about politics, or to stand up in front of 100 people at a meet-up and talk about your organization – but apprentices get this experience. They leave the program confident and articulate, and able to network and communicate with even the most successful and influential executives in the industry. works tirelessly to pass immigration reform and to shape a democracy that keeps the American Dream alive in the 21st Century. At the end of the day, the Apprentice Program is an opportunity to join a movement that is changing the world.

Meet the Summer 2014 Apprentices

“To be so involved in such a powerful movement at so young an age is an incredible opportunity, and I think our success as an organization rests on the efforts of members like our apprentices.”

Shanna Gong, Apprentice Program Manager

"I went out and talked to professionals in the sustainable technology field… I spoke to solar CEOs, I spoke to biofields, heads of business development and really interesting people, really influential people... "

- Ryan, Sustainable Tech team

"This internship has affected my professional trajectory by allowing me to meet really awesome people in the ed tech space.. I've had the opportunity to network … sitting down with CEOs, sitting down with different people in different positions at different companies really exposed me to the jobs that are out there"

- Jocelyn, Educational Tech team

Who Can Apply

We encourage current undergraduates and recent graduates in the Bay Area to apply for the program. The program is open to anybody with sufficient research experience and a clear dedication to the mission of

When Does the Next Program Start ?

The program will begin Monday, October 6, 2014 and conclude on Friday, April 17, 2015. Apprentices are expected to commit at least 15 hours per week and work in the headquarters in San Francisco or in the New York branch office at least two days per week.


Join the Fall Apprenticeship Program!

How To Apply: Please send a cover letter and resume to with the subject line “Name – Apprentice – City (choose SF / NY)


Legal Authorities Talk About Administrative Action Possibilities

Posted by on September 03, 2014

On Tuesday, August 26, America’s Voice hosted a panel of immigration law experts who discussed options for administrative relief and executive action that President Obama might be considering. Law professors and authorities on immigration law discussed the legality of potential administrative relief and executive action for American families and businesses on a reporter conference call, providing possible options that the administration may be considering, background on legal precedent, and guidance on how only a permanent legislative solution can fundamentally fix the country’s broken immigration system.

The following is a general overview of the points they made:

David Leopold, Past President and Past General Counsel, American Immigration Lawyers Association:

The constitutional & statutory basis for deferred action that would apply to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and other categories:

  • On the constitutional root of deferred action: it’s within the President’s responsibility to faithfully execute the law as set forth in the Constitution. Within that responsibility is the power to set enforcement priorities - i.e. how best to spend the limited resources at the government’s disposal in terms of enforcing that law.
  • Courts have generally given the President unfettered discretion in order to enforce the law according to the priorities they set. That’s prosecutorial discretion.
  • The statutory basis for deferred action: Congress grants the President the authority to administer and enforce immigration law. Per Leopold, “the whole concept of the immigration code as written by Congress over the years gives the executive relatively unfettered discretion in many areas” to enforce the law. The courts over the years have specifically referred to deferred action as a form of relief, and have repeatedly recognized the existence of deferred action and the President’s authority to grant it, pursuant to our priorities.

In fact, past presidents have all made use of executive action, utilizing categorical grants and individual grants dating back decades, including Presidents Kennedy, Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton. In sum, the Constitution, the statutes, the court precedents, and the administrative guidance that’s all been out there in the last 20-plus years shows us that this is firmly embedded in the law.

Stephen Legomsky, The John S. Lehmann University Professor, Washington University School of Law, and former Chief Counsel of USCIS, Department of Homeland Security:

Professor Legomsky, who was part of the team at DHS who worked out the details of DACA:

“There’s no question at all about the legality of deferred action itself: it’s just one form of prosecutorial discretion, which is standard practice for almost every law enforcement agency in the U.S. The theory: when Congress knowingly gives DHS only enough resources to go after a tiny percentage of the undocumented population, then obviously Congress intended for the Administration to formulate priorities: it has no choice. That’s what deferred action does: it prioritizes resources.

The concept pre-dated this administration, and the various immigration agencies have used deferred action for decades. With regard to DACA specifically being a permissible use of deferred action:

  • It’s always been general agency guidance as to the factors officers are supposed to apply when they decide on individual requests for deferred action.
  • As early as 1970s, the former INS laid out general factors that should guide these decisions, specifically including age, length of time in U.S., and whether there’s a criminal history.

The DACA instructions make crystal clear that they’re just guidelines, and that officers must still evaluate each case with regard to being a permissible use. So what’s different about DACA?

  • The way someone requests it (by both submitting documents + paying a processing fee): but that still doesn’t affect the legal standing. It just makes sense from an efficiency standpoint due to the larger numbers.
  • Why affirmatively tell people they can stay, and then issue work permits? To get people out of the shadows and be able to run background checks on them - it helps ensure that employers play by the rules. Congress has authorized DHS to grant work permits, and that authorization pre-dates this administration.

Cristina Rodriguez, Yale Law School; formerly Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice:

Here are two potential ways in which the Administration could use prosecutorial discretion to grant more relief - by expanding DACA, and by expanding on parole in place.


A decision to halt all deportations would most likely be beyond the President’s authority - so how broadly can the President extend the categories of people to whom relief is granted in the form that it has taken with DACA, and still stay on the side of the spectrum that’s consistent with his duties to take care that the laws are faithfully executed?

Again, this is somewhat of an issue due to resource limitations: prosecutorial discretion is justified primarily, though not exclusively, by the fact that Congress simply doesn’t delegate/appropriate enough resources to the executive to fully enforce the law.

Many of the categories for expanded relief within the public debate would likely fit well within the prioritization that the President has. Some likely potential candidate categories might include spouses and parents of U.S. citizen children, and parents or other relatives of DACA recipients.

  • Potential limitations: (1) Congress can and in the past has responded to efforts to enact legislation that would limit the President’s authority to expand categories. (2) It’s possible to disagree with the President’s authority to grant work authorizations - which is something separate from deferred action.


The Immigration and Nationality Act gives the President authority to parole individuals into the United States on a case-by-case basis, for urgent humanitarian reasons, or for significant public benefit; it’s currently been exercised for family members of active-duty service members. It’s generally intended to be granted sparingly, and in the past, when the President has exercised executive authority in a categorical rather than an individual manner, Congress can and has responded - that’s something the Administration will have to take into consideration.

Bo Cooper, Former General Counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Adjunct Professor at American University, Washington College of Law; Partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy:

The immigration statute is designed to serve a number of national interests, and one of those is to maximize opportunities for our country to attract intellectual and professional talent from around the world. This is an aspect of the immigration policy spectrum where there’s likewise a great deal of executive branch authority to make policy reforms and to address some of the negative consequences that our country has faced due to Congressional inaction without the need for additional legislation.

The core problem has to do with the alignment between the supply of visas Congress has made available for professional skills, and the demand of the U.S. economy. On H-1B side, supply is so out of alignment with the demand that every April 1st we see a free-for-all for the available visas. On the green card side, the mismatch between supply and demand is just as acute; many professionals may wait for over a decade to enter our workforce permanently.

What can the executive branch do? It can’t change those limits - only Congress can - but it can take steps to limit the damage:

On the H-1B and green card side:

  • The executive branch could change the way it calculates those limits with respect to the spouses and minor children of principal beneficiaries to these immigrant visa petitions. Right now and for decades, the executive brand has considered those dependent family members to count against those limits, but the statutes aren’t clear in any way, and Congress hasn’t given a clarifying answer. If properly enacted through regulation, that change would make massive inroads in dealing with the consequences of the backlog. It would also benefit not just those on the employment-based side, but those on the family-based side.
  • If the Administration recaptured visas that went to waste due to disuse in earlier years. The Administration has always understood visas that don’t get issued - that were authorized by Congress but didn’t get issued - to expire at the end of the year in which they were issued. That’s resulted in a huge waste due just to processing - the Administration has estimated that potentially several hundred thousand visas are available for recapture.
  • The Administration could take steps to deal with the consequences for people who’ve been forced to sit for 10 years in this backlog (such as work authorization, be granted parole in place, or to change employers) - this is something the agencies already do.

These and other steps available would make significant progress, but wouldn’t go anywhere near correcting problems faced due to the absence of legislative reform. 


#ThinkFWD Austin Chapter Launch

Posted by on September 02, 2014 hosted our inaugural Austin #ThinkFWD membership event on Thursday evening. The panel discussion was hosted at Homeaway and focused on how the tech industry is reshaping Austin’s economy.

Panelists included Josh Kerr, CEO of, Zhenya Loginov, Director of Dropbox Austin, Chelsea McCullough, Executive Director of Texans for Economic Progress and Krishna Srinivasan, Founding General Partner of LiveOak Venture Partners. National Organizing Director Lisa Conn moderated the discussion and fielded questions from the audience.

Find an Event Near You sat down with Paul Duan, the 22-year-old data scientist and founder of Bayes Impact. Paul gave us the inside scoop on his plans to revolutionize the public sector and change the way we think about data.

Paul-cover-FINAL.png What is Bayes Impact?

Paul: We are a non-profit that deploys teams of data scientists to work with civic and non-profit organizations to create data-driven solutions to tough social problems. So, can you explain what “data-driven solutions” means?

Paul: There are all of these big problems that nobody is really tackling. I used to be a data scientist at Eventbrite and I was working on fraud detection. If you have a better algorithm that can reduce fraud by 5-10% -- that’s good, and you can save your company millions of dollars. But what if you could use the same kind of techniques to achieve similar improvements when the metric isn’t a company’s bottom line, but human lives? A good example is emergency responders. If you could use an algorithm to predict where an emergency will be, you can get emergency responders to the emergency faster. Right now, if you had a heart attack and called a Lyft, the Lyft will probably get to you faster than the ambulance.

Obviously these are not directly comparable situations, but the bottom line is that Lyft can predict demand and use this information to help optimize their dispatch system. Similarly, predicting where emergencies are more likely to happen can help us reduce response times for emergency responders. This is a clear example of where the tech industry has developed a solution that can be applied to the public sector. Can you give us more examples of what you do?

Paul: Sure. Consider the example of organ transplants: In the U.S. there are currently more than 100,000 people waiting for an organ, but people get added to the list about twice as fast as organs become available and the result is that about 20 people die on average every day because of the shortage of organs. But if we could better predict who are the most critical patients and which transplants are most likely to be successful, then we could allocate the few organs we do have in a fairer and more efficient way. You’re from France, originally. How did you get to the U.S.?

Paul: I came to study abroad at U.C. Berkeley on a J-1 visa [an exchange-student visa], but then I won a scholarship to be a visiting scholar instead, which meant I had to switch to an F-1 visa [a student visa]. This seemed like an insignificant change at the time, but when I finished my year at Berkeley and wanted to go work in the tech industry, I learned the hard way that the F-1 visa actually has different restrictions than the J-1 in terms of work eligibility. That was my first brush with immigration. Next, I had a company offer me a job and to sponsor an H-1B visa [a foreign worker visa], but unfortunately I got the offer right after the H-1B visa cap was reached. So, I was prepared to stay and work in the United States, and suddenly I had to leave everything and go back to France.


I was later able to come back to the U.S. on a one-year J-1 visa, which was sponsored by my company, and hoped to be able to switch to an H-1B. But H-1B visas work on a lottery system -- and I lost the lottery. The company I was working for suggested I try to get an O-1 visa [a visa for individuals with extraordinary achievements or ability], which is difficult to qualify for. To bolster my application, I started entering some data science competitions and won a couple awards from Amazon and the Economist. I was written up in a few news publications and finally had enough to qualify for the O-1 and get back to the US.

I quickly got stuck again because O-1 visas are tied to your employer. So, when I wanted to leave my company to start Bayes Impact, I had to sacrifice my visa. I’m now in the process of getting a new one, but that’s a whole different story. How did being in Silicon Valley affect your idea for Bayes Impact?

Paul: What’s good about Silicon Valley is that an investor can give $1 million in seed money to a company, and that company can go on to create a $1 billion company. You can create value, because entrepreneurs build products and services that can scale. In the non-profit sector, you can compare that to multiplying impact. Not many people in the non-profit sector are really looking to use data to increase their impact; regrettably, non-profits are often more about redistributing money than they are about creating value through scalable solutions. I think in fifteen years, you will see most non-profits run very differently, and I want Bayes Impact to be on the forefront of that shift. 

Paul-Quote-Final.png What excites you about the work you do?

Paul: We haven’t quite seen the scrappy and entrepreneurial approach to non-profits yet. We’re lucky, because as the only non-profit currently at Y Combinator [a tech incubator in Silicon Valley], we are encouraged to explore an entrepreneurial side of non-profit work. What’s exciting about data is that you can find the commonalities between all of the problems you have with the public sector, and create general solutions to them. You can have an algorithm running right now, in production, that optimizes the way organ transplants are prioritized in the US by predicting the likelihood of rejection. It’s not just a lofty idea -- it’s something you can actually ship in the form of a tangible software product. And when you’ve done that once, nothing prevents you from implementing a similar solution somewhere else. To make a nonprofit like Bayes Impact work, we rely on the fact that we can get top talent -- people who would be really difficult to get in the for-profit space. We can sell them something totally different. We can tell them: Do you want to optimize the way people click ads for the rest of your life? Or do you want to change the world?


Today House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and effectively restart deportations of DREAMers.

The humanitarian crisis on the border continues to show the critical need for real and lasting immigration reform. Unfortunately, instead of taking the time to debate and vote on meaningful reform today, we saw the majority of House Republicans take a disappointing step in the wrong direction by even considering this legislation, which would hurt DREAMers and could restart deportations of these hardworking young people.

Americans of diverse backgrounds across the political spectrum agree that DREAMers - who were brought here at a young age and have known only our country as their home - contribute to our communities and our economy. In order to truly secure our border, create American jobs, and boost our economy, House Republicans must work toward a permanent legislative solution. We urge them to pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system as soon as possible.


Last week, we hosted a roundtable discussion event on health technology at the Impact Hub in San Francisco, California. The discussion, Patients First: Immigrant Innovations in Health Tech, featured over 20 participants. The event focused on tech contributions from the immigrant community and defined clearly the connection between health technology and immigration reform. Attendees discussed specifically recent developments in primary care, predictive analytics, health-tech related legislation and mobile applications. 

The discussion was led by Rishi Misra of Archimedes, Tia Gao of One Medical Group, and Justin Ip of Kerros Health. Each spoke to their respective sub-sectors and as immigrants themselves, were all uniquely positioned to appreciate both immigration challenges associated with entrepreneurship and contributions to health technology.

Join our next conversation on technology and immigration reform at an event near you. 


Join the Movement Fight for Immigration Reform Today

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