Since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, immigration has been the fuel that drives innovation and growth in America. Those first immigrants came to this country in search of the freedom to develop themselves as they saw fit, but also to develop America into the place full of opportunities we enjoy today.
I know this firsthand because that’s exactly the reason why I came to Silicon Valley. I was born and raised in France — certainly not one of the oppressive political systems we see in other parts of the world. I didn’t need to escape, and had been successful in France but I still came to to the Valley for what this amazing innovation ecosystem has to offer — and what I ended up offering in return as a venture capitalist.
I was lucky. I got in very easily because I happen to have the right visa. However, our broken immigration system often results in promising entrepreneurs being turned away. Entrepreneurs who could build the next major tech company, thereby creating many thousand jobs, are told there is no room for them in America. We are also experiencing a tremendous shortfall of qualified workers in STEM fields, yet we are forcing those who spent many years studying in our country to leave as opposed filling in much needed positions. Our immigration system is not connecting with the actual needs of the American economy and we have to change that in order to enjoy continued success.
We have been advocating for an Entrepreneurs Visa for a while now, a visa that will allow entrepreneurs who have raised funding from qualified investors to move to America, and develop their startup, create jobs, in our country. We have managed to do it a few times over the years, helping French, British, Australian founders to immigrate — but it is just too complex, costly. We need to remove these hurdles and make the Entrepreneur Visa a reality.
Recently, a group of four Republicans and four Democrats in the U.S. Senate known as the “Gang of Eight” introduced a bill to reform immigration in this country. For the sake of our economy, these reforms must become law. They are commonsense solutions to a seemingly intractable problem.
Please join me and thousands of others for a virtual march on Washington to let our elected representatives know we support commonsense efforts to modernize our broken immigration system. Go to www.MarchforInnovation.com. Once there, you can join the March and send a message to your elected officials through a host of social media channels.
An immigration system that welcomes the innovators of the world who can help us build an even stronger nation is just plain common sense. Let’s make this happen.
Originally published on The Huffington Post