Last night my partners and I hosted a fundraiser for NY's senior Senator Chuck Schumer. I've written about my fondness for Chuck on this blog before and I remain a fan and supporter.
Chuck told a story to a small group that had assembled before the larger event. He said that he was meeting with the CEO of Deutsche Bank and asked him "do you think the US will be the world's leading economy twenty-five years from now?" The Deutsche Bank CEO said "of course." Chuck said "not many americans feel that way right now." And the CEO said "America is the only place in the world where anyone, no matter what race, religion, background, can be accepted in business and society and realize their dreams and make it to the top. That doesn't happen anywhere else."
I might disagree with the CEO just a bit. I think Australia and Canada are very similar to the US in that regard. But his point is important and worth blogging about, which is what I am doing.
A welcoming society is our history and that is the special sauce that the US brings to the world economy. We welcome entrepreneurs large and small in the US and support them and celebrate their success and forgive their failures. And I am so very proud that I am a citizen of this great country.
But we have turned inward in the wake of 9/11 and the "war on terrorism." And that is hurting us. The terrorists have achieved their goals if they turn the US into a country that no longer welcomes the best and brightest from anywhere with open arms.
So I was thrilled to hear Senator Schumer's optimism last night that we will get "comprehensive immigration reform" in 2011, after the midterm elections. I hope and suspect that will include visas for science, technology, engineering, and medicine (STEM) grads. I hope and suspect that will include the startup visa. I hope and suspect that will include a lot more H1B visas.
Immigration reform is one of the most important issues in the startup political agenda which also includes net neutrality, patent reform, and a number of other important issues. I know that many of you share my passion for this issue. Let's keep up the pressure on our elected representative to do the right thing and give us comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.