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Silicon Valley presses Obama, Congress on immigration reform

March 14, 2013|By Jessica Guynn
  • President Obama arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill.
President Obama arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill. (Kristoffer Tripplaar /…)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Silicon Valley turned out in force on Capitol Hill to push its high-tech immigration reform agenda.

In a rare show of unity, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer were among a coalition of high-profile executives and venture capitalists to send a letter on Thursday to President Obama and congressional leaders pressing for a fix to restrictive immigration laws by year's end.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, investors and executives are also planning a virtual "march" on Washington in April.

"Because our current immigration system is outdated and inefficient, many high-skilled immigrants who want to stay in America are forced to leave because they are unable to obtain permanent visas," the letter says. "Some do not bother to come in the first place."

Efforts from the high-tech sector to ease the shortage of highly skilled workers have run up against Washington politicking. High-tech immigration reform will be folded into comprehensive immigration reform, which is complex, time-consuming and has no certain chance of success.

Technology investor Mike Maples said Silicon Valley is committed to getting immigration reform.

"This is not just an innovation and economic issue, this is a moral issue. It's immoral to kick people out of this country who are good people who want to be here to make the country better," Maples said. "We just think the current immigration laws hurt entrepreneurship and other countries are exploiting our stupidity."

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