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Where’s your family from? This popular conversation question is one we know exactly how to answer – perhaps you’d say half Italian and half Swiss, or maybe half Colombian with some German and French. Most of the time, depending on where you’re currently living, we’re actually talking about generations before us, which makes up our genes and how we identify ourselves today.

immigrants-and-libertyBut what about how people got there? For most Americans, our ancestors arrived years ago and we haven’t thought twice about it since. The United States is a nation built on immigration: between 1892 and 1924, 22 million immigrants entered the US through Ellis Island and the Port of New York. The United States continues to be a popular destination by attracting about 20% of the world’s international migrants, even as it represents less than 5% of the global population. Today, immigrants make up 13% of the overall U.S. population.

Immigration is often thought of as a taboo topic that’s left for politicians to figure out, or a frustrating topic left for job seekers to deal with on their own. However, it is something that has affected all of us, whether it’s in your family history or your current story. This is the very reason we should seek to find better laws and actions around it.

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Immigration reform has been in the works with plenty of news coverage lately and over the years, which is way too much to get into for this blog post. But action on a local and community level is where big ideas can start and that’s the type of work we love to see. We’re so excited for the first-ever Startup Weekend Immigration to take place in San Francisco during Editions Month!

Not only is this a brand new edition of Startup Weekend happening, but the team’s story behind the event won first place in our recent Editions Month Story Contest! Their organizing team is made up of 6 first-generation immigrants and 2 second-generation immigrants, coming together to rally various industry members to tackle this issue head on. You can read more from them and about their upcoming event below.

Organizing team members & origin countries
Peter Shin – Korea
Armando Guereca – Mexico
Pulkit Agrawal – UK, India
Jessica Yen – Taiwan
David Silva – Colombia
Ria Carmin – Russia
Kate Lacey – Canada
Kripa Nithya – India

What is the motivation behind organizing this event?

None of the organizers knew each other before this event, and we all come from very different immigrant backgrounds, but we’re united in working towards a common goal – To create a more even playing field for immigrants.

And that is the same experience we hope to provide to the participants. Whether you and/or your family immigrated recently or many generations ago, whether you came here for work/study/family/refuge/asylum/etc., whether you’re documented or undocumented, whether you work in tech or or not, we want to emphasize to everyone that despite our differences, we as immigrants and Americans are all united by a common dream, and that is to work hard and take big risks in order to achieve a better life than the one we were born into.

What are you most excited about for your upcoming event?

Bringing together and uniting the immigration+tech community together in a way that’s never been done before. Not only will we be bringing together 125+ participants from all different nationalities, but they’ll have the chance to meet notable immigrant founders, immigration startup founders, investors, journalists, attorneys, and policy experts who are all deeply passionate about this issue.

There will also be a major educational component, which is often lacking in the national discourse around immigration. We will be kicking off the event on Friday evening with a speaker panel discussing the history and context of immigration in the US, and how the laws and system became so broken over the years.

What makes this Edition and event unique?

  • It’s the first-ever Immigration-themed Startup Weekend in the world

  • This is not a one-off event. It will be the first in a series which will not stop until solutions for many/all of the ideas in this blog post have become a reality

  • Courtesy of one of our judges: immigrant founder angel fund Unshackled – the winning teams will get a chance to skip the initial screening stage and pitch directly to a panel of Unshackled’s impressive network of investors, for a chance at up to 185k in seed funding.

 

Read the Organizers’ story behind this event:

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Kacey Wherley
(@kaceyraewherley) is Marketing Manager at Techstars, located in Seattle. Before joining the Techstars team, Kacey was part of the UP Global team and previously with a cyber security startup in Pittsburgh. She enjoys all things social media and connecting with the community online.