I was born in the Philippines and lived the first 17 years of my life in Manila and in Hong Kong.
It occurred to me that this year marks the year that I have lived in the United States longer than I have lived anywhere else combined. It’s kind of crazy.
I have a lot to be thankful for about this country. I was educated here. My best friends are Americans. My wife and children are Americans. I’ve had the professional opportunities I’ve had because of this country, and I’ve become the person I am largely because of the values instilled by this country.
I’m lucky that I have always been able to secure H-1B visas to stay here and work, at least prior to getting my green card. But it honestly changed the calculus for me in many ways about risk and professional ambition. I know it’s impacted the lives of many friends who have had trouble staying in the country because of their career choices. And I’m on the board of two companies led by founders who had to jump through hoops to get their O-1 visa so they can build their companies in America and continue to contribute to the local economy and hire lots and lots of people. Pretty nutty.
Immigration policy is pretty confusing, and it isn’t that cut and dry, obviously. Many elements are a total no-brainer, but as Fred Wilson discussed in his last post, these policies end up getting intermingled with other, more controversial initiatives as part of immigration reform. Check out his post here.
I’ve actually been pretty torn on immigration reform overall. But I’m coming around. I come from a long line of immigrants. My grandfather left China to be an indentured servant in the Philippines. My Mom fled China to Hong Kong after her father was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution. My parents left the Philippines to go to Hong Kong during the revolution that over-threw the Marcos regime. And as a Christian, I think it’s quite clear that the story of my faith is one OF immigrants welcoming immigrants.
I’m pasting below Fred Wilson’s call to action and suggestions for how members of the tech community can help. Please spread the word, and let’s get something done.
“There are many opponents to the comprehensive immigration reform bill out there. And they will use anything, including things like what happened in Boston last week, to kill it. We need everyone in the tech industry and the world of startups to get behind this bill. Not only because it addresses pretty much every request we have made on immigration but also because the US is a land of opportunity and diversity and it is our greatest strength that we allow good people to come here and build a life, a career, a family, and a company.