Josh Kopelman is virtually marching for immigration reform because his Half.com cofounder Sunny Balijepalli was an immigrant and “the company would have failed without him,” he tweeted yesterday.
Kopelman is one of thousands of tech leaders and organizations that are participating in the the two-day “March for Innovation,” what organizers are calling the “largest social campaign targeting Congress in history.” The campaign calls for supporters to take to social media and tell your senators why you support immigration reform. The bill in question won its first battle Tuesday when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it, but it must still be approved by the Senate.
Why is immigration reform a technology sector issue? For one, immigrant-founded ventures have created 450,000 jobs and represented a market capitalization of roughly $500 billion in the last decade, according to a Kauffman Foundation report.
Get immigration background here from our sister site Technically Baltimore.
Many, including local leaders like University City Science Center president Steve Tang, have said that outdated immigration policy is driving foreign-born talent away. Immigration reform is one answer to a national trend of startups struggling to find talent, a trend that has played out here.
The March for Innovation is organized by Partnership for a New Economy (of which Mayor Michael Nutter is a co-chair, though he has yet to “march”) and Organizing for Action.
As of 1:20 p.m. yesterday, there were more than 2,000 #iMarch-related posts on Twitter and Facebook in Pennsylvania, said March for Innovation spokeswoman Jessica Long. So far, local participants include Kopelman, Azavea founder Robert Cheetham and Select Greater Philadelphia‘s CEO Council for Growth.
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