A Personal Note on Immigration

My parents are immigrants, so I grew up respecting the desire to pack up and move to a better life. It is brave and takes grit to make it.

My dad was an engineer, so I also grew up with a respect for building things. I’ve since become a software engineer and startup founder. In technology, immigration is a hot topic.

The conversation usually goes like this: there is a big national debate about immigration, but there is a small corner of immigration that disproportionately affects technology companies. High skilled immigration is a critical part of developing the latest and greatest technology we all love so much.

But I’m not here to talk about high skilled immigration. That debate is settled for anyone who actually works in a technology company. The demand for talent is incredibly high, and we’d all be better off if we let high skilled immigrants come into this country to build the future.

I’m here to talk about the rest of the immigration story. So I want to specifically call out lower skilled labor. We don’t talk enough about the incredible contribution such work makes on our society.

Jobs like farm workers, house cleaners, and other service jobs are incredibly important. I think we have a deep and unfair disrespect for such hard work. If you’ve ever done that work, you know how crazy this is. It’s like people that don’t treat stay at home moms as doing hard work: they’ve probably never had to sprint the marathon that defines child care. Low skilled work is a hell of a lot harder than the work I do in from of my computer all day.

Our outlook needs to change.

In fact, the whole debate about people in this country working illegally is fundamentally flawed. Why is the government making work illegal? Why are conservatives of all people the ones fighting hard work?

I’m no policy wonk, but my understanding is that only with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 did it became illegal to employ someone without documentation. We literally made it illegal to work. It boggles my mind.

I have employed many immigrants, directly and through services I use. If you live in a place with a lot of immigrants like California it is impossible to avoid benefiting from their work. I respect and appreciate them, and I want this country to be more open and welcoming to people that want to work to make their lives better.


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