Tech firms launching ‘Keep Us Here’ project to build support for immigration bill

The Washington Post

As the Senate begins debating a bipartisan immigration bill this week, a coalition of technology firms and larger special interest groups is launching a new way for people to directly contact lawmakers as the debate continues.

Engine Advocacy, a coalition of tech firms including Google, Firefox and Yelp and smaller firms like the online ride-share firm Uber and CoffeeHouseCoders — a social network for hackers — is launching “Keep Us Here,” a site designed to help people directly contact lawmakers through e-mail, Twitter and phone calls. By visiting the site, KeepUsHere.org, people can insert their home state, ZIP code and telephone number and will receive reminders to contact lawmakers as the debate moves through the Senate and House.

Mike McGeary, Engine’s chief strategist, said the group decided to launch Keep Us Here after hearing for years from tech firms concerned about how the nation’s outdated immigration laws were affecting their ability to do business.

“When you talk to [tech companies], as we have for the last couple of years, if we were to make a list of the top five issues that are important, the first four would be immigration back-to-back,” McGeary said. “It’s that level of importance to this community, because it affects our friends, our co-workers, our ability to grow. So we developed Keep Us Here as an opportunity to give these entrepreneurs a platform and to build a coalition to talk about the virtue of making reform to the high-skill, high-tech sector of our immigration, but largely to build an immigration system that works at all levels.”

The project is backed by an array of corporations and corporate and conservative interest groups, including the Consumer Electronics Association; the Partnership for a New American Economy, a project launched by New York Mayor Michael I. Bloomberg; the company Revolution founded by AOL founder Steve Case; and Americans for Tax Reform, the group founded by anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

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