Wall Street Journal
February 25, 2013
This is the year when immigration reform might happen, but leaders in the technology industry distrust politicians enough not to take chances. A group of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists is launching a “virtual march on Washington. They will be using the Internet and social media to argue for making the U.S. more welcoming of skilled workers.
The website launching Monday, www.MarchforInnovation.com, aims to harness the digital activism that last year killed overbroad antipiracy legislation with millions of emails and tweets as well as hundreds of websites that went blank in protest. The immigration-reform effort is the brainchild of the Partnership for a New American Economy, founded by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. It has support from people like AOL founder Steve Case and venture capitalist Fred Wilson. It will use an online campaigning tool called Thunderclap, which can deliver thousands of Twitter and Facebook posts simultaneously, with the idea of forcing Washington to focus on the issue.
John Feinblatt, chief policy adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, says the idea came from “technology leaders wanting to use technology to change the debate.” In the old days, groups would hire a lobbyist. Now the plan is to get millions of people to use the MarchforInnovation site and social media. “The immigration debate focuses on the borders and the 11 million undocumented workers, but not enough on the future flow of workers,” Mr. Feinblatt says. “The debate should be about jobs, attracting the best and brightest, and creating a robust legal regime to allow skilled immigrants.”