Sen. Bernie Sanders is Wrong About Immigrants

Posted by Todd Schulte on 07/29/2015

Statement from President Todd Schulte:

I hope you’ll take the time view this interview with Vox that Senator Bernie Sanders recorded about immigration. It’s troubling – because at a high level, he accepts the utterly false premise that our economy is zero-sum, and putting forward the totally-debunked notion that immigrants coming to the U.S. are taking jobs and hurting Americans – specifically young people, Latinos, and African-Americans.

Here’s the issue: when Senator Sanders falsely pits immigrants as an obstacle to tackling unemployment, he’s just plain wrong. The economic data is clear that immigrants create American jobs – and it’s exactly the sort of backward-looking thinking that progressives have rightly moved away from in the past years.

I hope Senator Sanders will clarify his comments and answer the following question: does he believe that increasing the ease with which hardworking immigrants come to this country – whether they’re working in agriculture, opening small businesses, or medical research – drives economic growth and creates jobs for all Americans? Celebrates Immigrant Heritage Month Successes

Posted on 07/01/2015


“One of the remarkable things about America is that nearly all of our families originally came from someplace else. We’re a nation of immigrants. It is a source of our strength and something we can all take pride in.”

– President Barack Obama, in his Weekly Address on Immigrant Heritage Month, June 5th, 2015

For the last 30 days, we have joined President Obama and in celebrating the second annual Immigrant Heritage Month.

Immigrant Heritage Month takes place in June, and is dedicated to recognizing the remarkable impact that immigrants have on the unique cultural fabric of the United States.

Our seven chapters brought together filmmakers, chefs, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and artists throughout the month to share their family’s stories, and how their immigrant heritage has impacted their lives, and the experiences of the generations before them.


Whether at events or through social media, thousands of people from across the country courageously shared touching stories of family tradition and heritage. We collected stories stemming from all over the globe, with origins in Somalia, Scotland, India, Jordan, China, Mexico, Portugal, Jamaica, Venezuela, Taiwán, Afghanistan, Palestine, Uruguay, Cuba, Norway, Syria, Haiti, and many more. Narratives shared detailed memories and emotional experiences, past, present, and future: A father’s daring journey hiding in the bilge of a ship from China to Costa Rica to the U.S. to provide his children with the opportunities he never had; a pair of siblings’ reflections on growing up with Jamaican, Chinese, Cuban, and Scottish roots; and dozens of individuals’ commitments to instilling the value of hard work and an appreciation of heritage to the next generation.

A total of 62 cities and 21 governors in 40 states declared June Immigrant Heritage Month, and recognized the significant contributions immigrants make to their local and regional communities, economies, and cultures. The House of Representatives and the Senate both introduced resolutions to officially make June Immigrant Heritage Month.

Our country’s entrepreneurial spirit and tradition of opportunity is fueled by its diverse origins. Immigration is an irrefutable part of America’s history. Thank you to all who participated in celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month!

Meet Indian Filmmaker Rucha Humnabadkar

Posted on 06/23/2015

On Thursday, the Silicon Valley chapter will screen For Here Or To Go? in collaboration with Immigrant Heritage Month. The film’s director, Rucha Humnabadkar, filled us in on what inspired her to make the film and how her own heritage influences her work as a filmmaker. RSVP for the screening of For Here Or To Go? here! What is your film For Here Or To Go? about and what influenced you to make the film?

Humnabadkar: For Here Or To Go? is a contemporary comedy/drama about the trials and tribulations of an Indian technology entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, California. It centers on Vivek Pandit, the protagonist, as he attempts to navigate the U.S. immigration system. Ultimately, he experiences what it means to assimilate into a new culture and make a home away from home. Vivek and his roommates, Amit and Lakshmi, show us the lives of ambitious young Indian immigrants as they attempt to establish themselves both professionally and personally while adjusting to a different culture. We see their comical and endearing behaviors as the film examines life from the immigrant perspective and explores sensitive issues with a light-hearted touch.

When I met writer Rishi Bhilawadikar, I realized we both share a passion for storytelling and believe in the promise of technology disrupting the status quo. I felt an instant connection to the script and knew this was not a story told on film before. Indian immigrants have helped shape Silicon Valley and are a big influence on its culture. The Indian community has also developed many idiosyncrasies in an attempt to hold on to its heritage, and so it is a narrative very close to my heart as the protagonist’s struggles reflect many of my personal experiences as well as those of my friends and family. Prior to shooting this film, we also spent time interviewing a number of Bay Area Indian immigrant families, young professionals, and students to capture the stories of our diaspora.

For Here Or To Go? follows protagonist Vivek Pandit (Ali Fazal), pictured above. How has your own family heritage shaped you personally or professionally?

Humnabadkar: I’ve inherited a passion for learning and an insatiable curiosity from my parents, which has served me well in my professional and personal endeavors. Both of my parents are voracious readers and my mother tried to inculcate reading habits in me early on. Motivated by curiosity of how to tell a good story, I began to write and direct plays at a young age. When I was nineteen I staged my first play, which received positive reviews. I was given remarkable freedom at a young age, uncommon for a girl growing up in India.

My father is an entrepreneur and I learned from him to be independent and self-motivated. My parents supported my dream of attending graduate school in the U.S. After my first semester, I had doubts about continuing, because I was unsure of the field of study I had picked. But my father made me see that I would only gain from this experience. Graduate school opened a world of opportunity and also exposed me to diversity in thought, values and people, which I cherish to this day.

I am the first generation in the U.S. in my family and recently became a U.S. citizen. I have strong roots in Indian culture and visit home every year. It’s important to recognize who you are and where you come from. It’s what makes you unique and special and that’s why you have to tell stories and talk about your culture – it truly shapes who you are. What do you hope audiences will take away from For Here Or To Go? What are your plans for the film?

Humnabadkar: I am highly motivated to tell this story to the world, not just for audiences in the U.S. but also to share with Indians back home. People in India always perceive Indians living in the U.S. as having an affluent lifestyle free of troubles. My experience has shown me otherwise. The reality of leaving home, assimilating into a new culture, and finding success in a distant land is an arduous yet rewarding journey. The film has received terrific audience response at film festivals, and I’ve had stimulating Q&A sessions with audiences after screenings. This leads me to believe that the film will resonate with a global audience and trigger conversations around some of the most hotly debated topics of our time.

The plan is to globally distribute the film and reach a worldwide audience. We are also holding private screenings of the film with key organizations to raise awareness. One recent event at which we screened the film was called Indiaspora, a gathering of Indian Americans from various fields. This viewing led to an invite by the Indian Embassy in Washington D.C to host a special screening. We’re celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month throughout June – if you could celebrate your heritage in one way, what would it be?

Humnabadkar: I would invite my close friends and family to eat my favorite dessert Gulab Jamun and, of course, watch For Here Or To Go?

Join the Silicon Valley chapter on Thursday, June 25th for a special screen of For Here Or To Go? Click here to RSVP.

"Trotter" Will Help Immigrants, Transplants Find Housing

Posted by Lucas Waldron on 06/10/2015

Ernesto Humpierres spent the last year developing Trotter, a startup service that helps immigrants and transplants find places to live in major American metropolitan areas. The service, which has accrued over 500 customers in just 3 months, asks users to provide basic information about the kind of housing they are seeking and their budget. Then, Trotter sources the user’s information to real estate agents, who contact the user directly with housing offers.

Ernesto met his co-founder Clara Arroyave at a event in Boston, and they immediately hit it off. Clara and Ernesto are both immigrants from Colombia and Venezuela, respectively. In Trotter’s short lifespan, the team has expanded to include two engineers who work remotely in Colombia. “I have a dream that at some point we will all be reunited in the same city,” explains Ernesto, but getting visas for the engineers will be tough. Ernesto could sponsor H-1b visa applications through Trotter, but the cost of the H-1b application is high and often challenging for startups to manage, especially considering that the likelihood of winning the H-1b visa lottery is slim.

Trotter is currently in public beta, and the team continues to make tweaks to the platform. Ernesto believes that users will find Trotter especially helpful because it takes a holistic approach to finding housing and other moving resources for transplants in new cities. “Housing is a major pain point for immigrants when they move,” Ernesto said, “Landlords don’t want to rent to you because you don’t have a credit history or background check.”

Trotter seeks to solve these problems with a fresh new perspective on the renting marketplace. For now, you can find Trotter in New York, Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

For more information on Trotter, visit

To join your chapter and meet innovative tech leaders in your area, visit your chapter page here.