Reports that Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is one of the founders behind an upcoming issues advocacy organization promoting — first and foremost — comprehensive immigration reform, is just the latest news on how Silicon Valley has become a key advocate for this kind of legislation.
“Three things have changed when it comes to supporting immigration reform; the scope, the timing and the players,” says Giovanni Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of SocialxDesign, which has advised the White House and the DNC on ethnic-based social engagement strategy. “The scope is broader now; in the past it was unusual for a Silicon Valley firm to come together around social issues,” says Rodriguez, who lives and works in Silicon Valley.
The timing, though, has a lot to do with the effects of Latinos‘ growing political mobilization and participation. “The news coverage of the ‘Latino moment’ in the November elections inspired many other groups that if you come together you can get things done,” Rodriguez states. “Add to that the fact that Silicon Valley has gotten increasingly multicultural and complex, including the increasing number of Latinos as well as Asians in technology,” Rodriguez adds. “People have a big misunderstanding of the Latino employment situation in Silicon Valley. It’s richer than what people think,” he states.
An example of this is Reynaldo Gil, co-founder of ReyLabs and a member of the Silicon Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Gil is also a member of the Partnership for a New Economy, a bipartisan organization founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, among others, to support comprehensive immigration reform.
“As a Cuban immigrant, I was recruited for an innovative job-training program for Latinos supported by IBM, HP and Lockheed Martin at the age of 18,” states Gil in the organization’s website. “My career in America began at IBM where I progressed to a top-level tech job and entered the tech career force as a member of the small but growing class of Latinos in the field. I want others to follow my path,” adds Gil.
Pablo Diaz-Gutierrez is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Appfluence, a company which makes software to help managers be more productive. When it comes to current immigration laws, the visa process favors big companies, he says. “The push for comprehensive immigration reform is a good and welcome change to level the playing field,” he explains.
Diaz-Gutierrez joined Facebook’s Zuckerberg and the heads of 100 leading technology companies and signed a recent letter to the president and leaders of Congress urging for passage of comprehensive immigration reform. The list of companies include eBay, Google and Yahoo, as well as Eventbrite, PayPal and Zynga.
“We call on you to address the need for more qualified, highly-skilled professionals,” states the CEO letter, “domestic and foreign, and to enact immigration reform this year. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in a bipartisan way as we move forward in our common interest,” they add.