Documentary Helps Silicon Valley Build Support for Immigration Reform Effort

The film screened last night with the tech elites and powers that be in Silicon Valley, who will use the film to rally support around their own reform effort known as FWD.us, launched by Facebook's own Mark Zuckerberg.

Former tech writer for the Washington Post Jose Antonio Vargas is the subject of a new documentary film, “Documented,” that chronicles his experience as an illegal immigrant in the U.S.

Vargas “outed” himself as an undocumented worker in an eye-popping op-ed in The New York Times a few years ago, explaining how he went from learning about his undocumented status as a teenager to sending money back home to the Phillipines while building a Pulitzer Prize-winning career. He also wrote for the Huffington Post and is now an activist for the reform movement.

The film screened last night with the tech elites and powers that be in Silicon Valley, who will use the film to rally support around their own reform effort known as FWD.us, launched by Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg.

But in a switch from the tech industry’s past approach, Silicon Valley is making the point that immigration reform is not just good for their industry but that broad reform is good for the U.S. in general. That means improving the process for both both skilled and more unskilled workers.

(Editor’s Note: This writer worked on the H1-B visa effort in 1999 on behalf of the tech industry, which wanted to increase the number of specialized visas issued by the U.S. in order to recruit talent from overseas, such as India and Asia.)

Legislation to reform the immigration system in the U.S. is winding its way through Congress, which is expected to pick up debate when they return from their summer recess. The U.S. Senate passed their version of a bill with a mix of support from both sides of the aisle but the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is bracing for a more contentious battle.

We learn in a review of the film by TechCrunch, there is no path for Vargas to gain citizenship the way the current bills have been drafted. Because he is not the kin of documented workers or the parent of undocumented children, there is currently no way for him to gain a path to citizenship since the DREAM Act was killed in the last Congress (TechCrunch notes that Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia says he’ll revive a DREAM bill in the fall.)

The future of reform is far from certain; it will be interesting to see how Silicon Valley’s support for reform efforts will affect the eventual outcome of any legislation.