Mayor Bloomberg at Stanford and FWD.usShare on Twitter Share on Facebook
On Sunday, thousands of Stanford University students heard NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg deliver the commencement address and emphasize the critical need for comprehensive immigration reform. Mayor Bloomberg has been a tireless champion for reform to grow our economy and create jobs as Co-Chair of the Partnership for a New American Economy, which has been pressing the case for the economic benefits of immigration reform - and we were honored that he hosted a roundtable discussion on Saturday with FWD.us founders and college students whose lives have been personally impacted by our broken immigration system.
FWD.us supporters Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, Brian Chesky and I were thrilled to meet with the mayor and these talented students - who expressed deep frustration with the current system, and hope that Washington will do the right thing and pass meaningful reforms.
Mayor Bloomberg was optimistic about passing comprehensive immigration reform, but emphasized that the public needs to get involved to make sure Congress passes the legislation, specifically by calling Congress and volunteering with organizations like FWD.us.
Reid Hoffman spoke passionately about how immigration reform is the right thing to do, morally, economically, and for our identity as Americans. Drew Houston talked about how a quickly-growing company like Dropbox had their growth constrained because they could not find all the engineers they needed in the U.S., and the immigration system was preventing the most talented immigrants from coming to work at Dropbox.
Ingrid, Leonardo and Mohit, all former or current Stanford students, shared their personal stories with the Mayor and FWD.us supporters. Ingrid, who came to this country as a child from Guatamela, talked about what it was like being an undocumented student, or DREAMer, at Stanford. She graduated from Stanford in 2011 with a degree in Management Sciences and Engineering, but worked at a landscaping and cleaning company until she recently received a permit to work in the U.S. under President Obama's deferred action program.
Mohit, who graduated from Stanford on Sunday, was returning home to India despite securing a promising job offer from a leading consulting firm in New York. Instead of focusing on pursuing his dream in the U.S. after being educated here, Mohit must return to India because there are not enough visas that would allow him to stay.
Leonardo, an economics student at Stanford, shared his difficult but inspiring path to college. An undocumented immigrant who was brought to the U.S. when he was 12, Leonardo had to learn English while bouncing from different relatives' homes throughout his youth. Leonardo still graduated first in his class. He is now a permanent resident, but only because he qualified under a special provision for abused or neglected children.
It makes no sense that we would take the best and brightest people who want to contribute to our country, and do anything other than provide our full support. America has always been a beacon for those who work hard to make a better life - this has been a great source of our economic and cultural strength, and our immigration system should reflect it.
At Stanford Graduation
During Sunday's commencement address, FWD.us volunteers set up a "Keep the Future Here" photobooth where supporters expressed why they want to see comprehensive immigration reform become a reality. "Keep the Future Here" is a FWD.us campaign around college graduations aimed at highlighting the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Instead of doing everything we can to keep the talent we've trained, our immigration system makes it difficult for graduates from other countries to stay in the U.S. and contribute to our economy. Various speakers, including Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa at Johns Hopkins University, have discussed the need for immigration reform at university commencements, and students from around the country have taken hundreds of photos with signs expressing why they support immigration reform.
The enthusiasm at Stanford was infectious. Hundreds of people participated in our photobooth, highlighting the various economic and social reasons why the time is now for meaningful immigration reform - and adding faces and names to our efforts to help pass a comprehensive bill. While supporters and volunteers showed their support for reform through photos, Mayor Bloomberg addressed the Stanford graduates and focused on the critical need for reform: "We now have a real chance at passing comprehensive, sensible immigration reform this year – and I hope all of you will make your voices heard, too. If we’re going to win the future, we’ve got to keep the future here by allowing more immigrants to come here and pursue the American Dream."
We're honored that the Mayor specifically cited the work of FWD.us to pass immigration reform in his remarks to thousands of graduates and their friends and families - and we're thrilled to join the Partnership for a New American Economy and so many other organizations who have been in this fight for years, if not decades.
As always, your momentum will be critical to helping organize the tech community to pass reform. Join us in calling your Senators and spreading the word so we can keep the future here - and keep moving the American economy forward.