Mayor Bloomberg’s strongly-worded call for immediate immigration reform yesterday has been drawing praise from some of the biggest names from Silicon Alley out to the Valley. Mr. Bloomberg’s speech tying immigration to innovation clearly struck a chord with those in the tech sector who have been struggling to find talent to keep pace with their growth—an issue causing furrowed brows among New York City’s start-up founders.
“It’s what I call national suicide – and that’s not hyperbole,” said Bloomberg. “Every day that we fail to fix our broken immigration laws is a day that we inflict a wound on our economy. Today, we may have turned away the next Albert Einstein or Sergey Brin. Tomorrow, we may turn away the next Levi Strauss or Jerry Yang.”
As Fred Wilson put it, the Mayor’s plan calls for a green card stapled to every diploma for an advanced degree.
“We are investing millions of dollars to educate these students at our leading universities, and then giving the economic dividends back to our competitors–for free. The two parties should be able to agree on a policy that allows any university graduate with an advanced degree in an essential field to obtain a green card–and a chance to help us grow our economy. We must allow these students to stay here and be part of our future or we will watch our future disappear with them.”
TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington is pumped that the Mayor’s plan will include a new visa for entrepreneurs with investors ready to invest capital in their job-creating idea. He drafted a post, Hell Yes, Mayor Bloomberg. I’m With You, that shot to the top of Hacker News and Techmeme. Major investors like Brad Feld and John Doerr took up the rallying cry on Twitter.
For years, former entrepreneur and academic Vivek Wadhwa has promoted the notion of a “Start-up Visa,” a federal approach to some of these same concerns. Back in March, he criticized the Kerry-Lugar proposal on the subject because of the amount of money it demanded entrepreneurs raise before being granted a visa. His criticism helped lower that threshold to a minimum of $100,000. (After two years, the start-up needs to have created five American jobs, raised more than $500,000, or generate more than $500,000 in annual revenue.) That bill is being lobbied for by some of the same names, like Mr. Wilson and Mr. Feld. It’s great to see the Mayor jumping in to take up the banner.