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On Wednesday, FWD.us hosted a roundtable discussion on immigration reform with Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and leaders from Utah’s fast-growing tech sector. It was an honor and a thrill to meet Senator Hatch, and the event was a powerful demonstration of how fixing our broken immigration system is critical for our economy.
Senator Hatch is a true statesman, and it was refreshing to hear him speak. He is a longtime advocate for the tech sector – I greatly appreciated his kind words about FWD.us – and his understanding of the tech community is evident in his words and actions.
His belief in the need for immigration reform is genuine. To Senator Hatch, reform is the right thing to do both morally and for our economy, and it requires bipartisan action. “It is important that we pass this bill or at least one that is very much like it," he said. “You can't do that by just saying no. You have to dive in and do it in a way that makes sense.”
An incredible group of Utah tech leaders also joined us to share stories about the need for immigration reform. The discussion made it clear that our broken system is preventing businesses from growing and creating jobs in Utah.
"We can’t hire fast enough the engineers and scientists we need. We have openings that go unfilled for months," said Rob Clyde, CEO of Adaptive Computing. "I can’t tell you how frustrating it is … to see great students come in who want to stay, want to work in Utah, want to work for high-tech companies, and end up having to leave."
David Elkington, CEO of InsideSales.com, made the critical point that, in today’s economy, jobs are not zero sum. He said too many Americans believe "there is a set number of jobs, and if foreign people take these jobs then I won’t get a job. ... In my company, the faster I can hire, the faster we grow. The faster we grow, the faster and more people I can hire."
As Senator Hatch put it, the idea that allowing more immigrants “would just displace American workers is a doggone joke."
The Utah tech community is a real force. The entrepreneurs I’ve met at the event and around the state are some of the most impressive I have ever encountered. Several amazing volunteers from Utah’s tech sector even helped organize the event. It was a passionate and diverse group: everything from DREAMers like Jesus Loya to tech entrepreneurs like Derek Hall.
It was inspiring to see the tech community come out so strongly in Utah. It’s a critical state for immigration reform, and this event moved us one step closer to helping make reform a reality.
Read more about the panel in this article from The Salt Lake Tribune.