Just two generations ago, my grandmother passed through New York Harbor, seeing the Statue of Liberty as she emigrated from Sicily to become an American. A teenager crossing the Atlantic Ocean, by boat, for a better way of life.
She raised seven children in a one-bedroom home on North 12th Street in San José. Fast forwards 100 years, her grandson is the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
We are a nation of immigrants, standing on the shoulders of those who came before us.
Our country is now engaged in a great debate. The time for meaningful immigration reform is now. In Silicon Valley, we get this. We know that 53 percent of our engineers were born outside the U.S. More than 40 percent of company CEOs and founders are foreign-born. More than 50 percent of students earning advanced technical degrees in U.S. universities are foreign-born, as are the professors teaching those courses.
At the Leadership Group, meaningful reform includes three essential elements:
- Make H-1B and green card programs work for America. Remove the artificially low cap and replace it with a market-based cap.
- Recruit and retain the best and brightest. Learn from Canada, New Zealand and Australia and provide visas and green cards to entrepreneurs and advanced degree graduates.
- Prepare today’s generation of American students with the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills they need to compete globally.
Our country has been a beacon of light to the world. Let’s continue to educate our own students to be their best, and also attract the best from around the globe.