Tech Virtual March for Innovation #iMarch

America’s innovators & leading technology companies are organizing a virtual march on Washington to push for smart immigration reform to support innovation. The USP? They’re not actually going to Washington, instead of physically marching, they will be organizing calls for reform online. My first thought is that the UK definitely needs a similar mindset and movement, after all, time and time again, ‘the immigration issue’ is that favorite carrot that ruling parties use to appease the ill informed in a game of smoke and mirrors.

Innovation and technology are the engines of the American economy, but we need more of the best and brightest to power it. It’s simple: the more innovators, entrepreneurs, and hard working individuals we have in America, the better our economy performs and the more jobs we create for all Americans. We’re bridging party lines to streamline, modernize, and rationalize our broken immigration system.

Not everyone would agree with my opening statement, but I am sure Universities and the Financial Hub in Canary Wharf know where I am coming from. The March for Innovation, is an online endeavor underwritten by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and several venture capitalists and paid for by the New American Economy Action Fund. Other supporters include Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, Chairman, PVBLIC Foundation/P3 Global Management, John Lilly partner, Greylock Partners; former CEO of Mozilla, Andres Barreto Founder, Onswipe, Grooveshark, PulsoSocial, Socialatom, Andrew Rasiej Chairman, NY Tech Meetup and Hilary Mason Chief Scientist, Bit.ly to name a few.

You might wonder why this aspect of immigration reform important to America’s economy? Well according to the  Associated Press  ‘Silicon Valley leaders have gone on record complaining about the difficulties associated with inviting qualified high-tech workers to leave their home countries and come to live and work in the United States. Leaders of the high-tech industry argue that today’s economy calls for the employment of the world’s most talented workers, which do not necessarily live in the United States. In order to stay competitive in the global market, American companies argue that immigration policies are hindering them from pursuing this talent. Brad Feld managing director at Foundry Group in his blog writes “our system still works to support a Cold War economy in the 21st century. It’s an outdated and outmoded system that is as frustrating as it is ineffective”. Venture capitalist Somesh Dash, a principal with Institutional Venture Partners, is a member of the Partnership for a New American Economy and helping organize the virtual march. Dash – a Silicon Valley native whose own parents immigrated from India – says some of his firm’s most successful investments have been in companies with a foreign founder. He says his main priority with the virtual march is to ensure tech workers aren’t left out of a broad discussion about immigration reform going on in Washington, which also includes controversial issues like border security and illegal immigration. The planned march comes at a time when  Canada has arrived in Silicon Valley with an overt agenda – tempting talented immigrants frustrated by U.S. visa policy. A prominent South San Francisco billboard, reads  “H-1B problems?” referencing America’s temporary visa for skilled foreign workers. “Pivot to Canada.

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