Jesús Loya: “Immigration Reform is Personal For Me.”
January 12, 2015
Immigration reform is personal for me. I have navigated the complexities of the existing immigration system as a former DREAMer. I consider myself an American in every way except on paper. While I currently have work authorization, my future is still unclear even though I earned an honors B.S. in electrical engineering, an MBA and a M.S. in electrical and computer engineering. I pay taxes, my son and a sister are U.S. citizens, and my parents and two other sisters have their green cards. As a director of an early-stage venture capital group, I get to facilitate the hopes and dreams of entrepreneurs who create private sector jobs and grow our economy.
So, I see firsthand how our current immigration system is holding us back and how badly we need the kind of reform that encourages entrepreneurship, ingenuity and pursuit of the American dream. Utah’s businesses, families and communities cannot wait. Our outdated immigration system is hindering our potential for growth. Many skilled workers across the labor spectrum, from farm workers to engineers, do not have a legal way to work and contribute to the economy — while countries like Canada and Chile have adapted and are providing visas to the entrepreneurs and STEM graduates we are turning away.
In rising tech hubs including Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah, entrepreneurs are having difficulty hiring talented people due to the shortage of STEM graduates. The number of Americans studying in STEM fields is growing less than one percent per year. The immigration bill approved by Senate in June not only increases the number of H1B visas available for people with advanced degrees, but also provides funding to enhance STEM education programs throughout the nation and grow the talent within.
I participated in the fly-in the coalition organized in June with members of the Senate and their staff. This time, I’m back in D.C. to share my story with members of the House. Together with faith, labor, government, business and tech leaders, we will send a unified message to leaders in Capitol Hill and encourage them to act and pass immigration reform this year.
It is clear that our current immigration system is broken. Modernizing it is vital to border security, job creation, economic growth and ensuring that the U.S. remains competitive in a global economy. The time to act is now. Let’s get it done!
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Jesús Loya is a former DREAMer and is the director of an early-venture capital group in Utah.