When founder Kelsey Falter of Poptip, a website that can deliver survey results in real time, realized that her star developer Roly Fentanes from Arizona was an undocumented immigrant, she set off on a tireless year-long journey through the web of U.S. Immigrations policy to get him legally on her team. Falter was convinced that Fentanes was a critical element to building her company. Fentanes had previously been a recipient of a scholarship for undocumented immigrants at Arizona State University, but had to leave the program as a junior when he was out of money for tuition and couldn’t work without a permit.
In a hypercompetitive global marketplace, how many other startups or companies are facing undocumented students forced to leave and taking their talents elsewhere, or go underground?
It apparently is a big enough problem that technology groups are now stepping up to urge lawmakers to support immigration reform when they return to the nation’s capital next month. According to TechVoice, a partnership of the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the Technology Councils of North American (TECNA) and participating regional technology associations, they are leading a “nationwide effort to build support for immigrations reform, particularly as it relates to high-skilled immigration reform and new visas for STEM advanced degree graduates.”
More than 136 companies from states all around the country, Arizona included, are participating in this effort.
CEO of CompTIA Todd Thibodeaux, finds this effort critical to America’s economic growth in order to “…build a long-term pipeline of American workers for STEM related jobs.”
Chairman, President and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council Steven G. Zylstra who recently assumed the role of Chairman of TECNA comments on the reform efforts, “Although our concerns lie in the high-skilled realm, we support comprehensive reform, either as one large package or through piece-meal legislation that is put together down the road. We encourage the House and Senate to work together to iron out their differences in content and approach and to come up with a solution that helps us drive innovation, build our local economies and move forward in this 21st century.”
Read Roly Fentanes’ story at CNN here.
Read the Wall Street Journal’s take on work visas here.
Photo of US Capitol provided by Wikimedia Commons