LAS VEGAS — Monday morning at South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) Version 2 Vegas, Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nevada) headlined an immigration panel discussion featuring CEOs of influential startup companies. Participants centered on the need to strengthen our economy by creating a better immigration process and the positive effects of immigration reform on entrepreneurship and innovation.
The panel, titled “America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit: The Case for Fixing our Broken Immigration System,” sponsored by the National Immigration Forum, was the only policy-focused session at the conference.
With Congress in recess, Bibles, Badges and Business leaders are building momentum for reform — not only at South by Southwest, but also at dozens of roundtable discussions around the country. Leaders are urging members of the House of Representatives to get the job done after they return to Washington.
The following are quotes from panel participants at today’s event:
Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nevada):
“Our immigration system is broken and in need of real solutions to the problems we currently face. Everyone, from small businesses to the high-tech industry to the agriculture industry, believes now is the time to do something meaningful. I am committed to addressing immigration this year and will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to do just that. Today's event was a great opportunity to hear how a dynamic, expanding sector of our economy feels about immigration reform, and the insight I gained was very valuable. Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with constituents and key local stakeholders to continue discussing this issue and will take their concerns back to Washington.”
Andrew Crump, CEO of Bluefields:
“I find it unbelievably strange that in a country founded on modern immigration and entrepreneurship, there is no clear path for foreign entrepreneurs to build their companies here. America should want the next Facebook or Twitter to be built in the U.S., creating U.S. jobs and contributing to the U.S. economy. Every company that gives up on its U.S. dream is an opportunity lost for America.”
Mark Falzone, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum:
“The panel and Rep. Heck made it clear that immigrants are innovators who help grow the economy, and businesses want to invest in them. We need broad immigration reform to attract talented and ambitious immigrant entrepreneurs who can start companies and create jobs in the U.S.”
Alex Torrenegra, Colombian immigrant and CEO of VoiceBunny:
“I believe immigrants, like myself, should not have to get lucky to have a chance at success in America. Immigration reform will benefit the U.S. by once again attracting ‘the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ that made this country what it is today.”
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Bibles, Badges and Business is a project of the National Immigration Forum and the National Immigration Forum Action Fund.