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Silicon Valley Split On Immigration Reform

Sherrilyn Ling |
August 2, 2013 | 10:01 a.m. PDT

Guest contributor

The Silicon Valley district/Creative Commons
The Silicon Valley district/Creative Commons
Palo Alto businesswoman Ines Ferris finds it unfair that undocumented immigrants must constantly fear being put onto a blacklist and deported out of the country.

Ferris, who immigrated to the states from Germany, hopes that immigrants can feel more secure when they are in need of assistance.

“There are a lot of people who are afraid of any sort of office to get help, information or direction that they need, and so they wait until some dire need arises,” Ferris, who runs Pip Printing and Marketing Services, said. “So I think it would be much better if it were safe for people to get answers.”

As for the securing of the border, Ferris is not in favor of it. She does not think that the fence is being put up reasonably and believes all the taxpayer money going into the project is a waste.

“They call it border security but it’s not really border security,” Ferris said. “We’re not paying the same attention to Canada that we are to Mexico. Clearly this is about what kind of immigrants are coming into this country.”

Ferris wishes that people who hope to immigrate to the United States for better opportunities would be able to come here without such hardships.

“If I were in Mexico and I had no way out, and I would be willing to risk my life to come here, obviously I’m looking for something that I could not ever get in the next 10 or 20 years in my own country,” Ferris said. “So it’s inhumane not to focus on the human aspect of why people move in the first place.”

When it comes to Pip Printing and Marketing Services, however, Ferris does not believe that illegal immigration would have much of an impact. She explained that most of their customers are large corporations and that they rarely have walk-in customers, so there would be no drastic effect on the business.

California’s 18th congressional district is located in the Silicon Valley, known for having the world’s largest technology corporations including Apple Inc., Facebook, Google, Yahoo! and Nvidia. This region is now the largest high-tech manufacturing center in the United States and has the highest amount of high-tech workers in any metropolitan area.

In 2011, the average household income in the Valley was just under $85,000 and the 2010 census revealed that white alone took up about half of the district’s population.

Pei-ing Wang, a worker at Nvidia in Santa Clara, believes that one of the biggest issues her district faces is housing affordability.

“A lot of housing prices are pretty high in this area, and a lot of people can’t afford to live here,” Wang said. “This is an area that has high growth, as part of Silicon Valley, and the land is limited so it’s pretty saturated.”

Wang also contributes the area’s nice weather, high income and good education to the expenses.

While Wang would like to see prices go down so more people can live in the Valley, she doesn’t think it will happen soon. However, Wang hopes that California High-Speed Rail Authority’s (CHSRA) plans to build a high-speed railroad between Northern and Southern California with a BART extension to San Jose can provide people with more opportunities.

“Hopefully with the public transit, people who don’t live close by will have the chance to work here as well,” Wang said.

Although illegal immigration is not much of an issue in his area, John Sansone, from Palo Alto, is strongly in favor of the securing of the border, saying “there’s plenty of people here already.”

Despite having worked with and talked with undocumented immigrants previously in his life, Sansone says he would never hire one today.

“You see, you have the legal immigrants, and the illegal immigrants,” Sansone said. “And I don’t want the illegal ones, I want the legal ones.”

As for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, Sansone responds, “Why would you reward someone for breaking the law?”

Ferris and Sansone hold two contrasting opinions on the issue, but they share the same eagerness to know what will be done about it. Representative of California’s 18th District, Anna Eshoo, has promoted immigration policies that provide opportunities for people to immigrate legally into our country, creating a pathway for citizenship for those in the country and holding employers accountable for employing illegal workers. 

Eshoo voted no on building a fence along the Mexican border, yes on more immigrant visas for skilled workers, and yes on extending Immigrant Residency rules. She cosponsors giving visas to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) college graduates and is a supporter of the DREAM Act.

Rep. of California's 18th Congressional District Anna Eshoo/Creative Commons
Rep. of California's 18th Congressional District Anna Eshoo/Creative Commons
On July 22, 2011, Eshoo announced that she, along with other Congress members, wrote President Obama to fight immigrant deportations.

"I am the proud daughter of immigrants, and it breaks my heart to hear of families pulled apart by our broken immigration system," said Eshoo. "Families shouldn't be treated like a political football. These are families, these are bright young students, and these are people whose loved ones serve in the military. They are not criminals.”

As a longtime cosponsor and supporter of the DREAM Act, she made a statement on the act on December 9, 2010.

“Across our country, millions of children who have lived here most of their lives - and know no other home - are denied access to their American dreams,” Eshoo said. “These children live under threat of deportation because of their parents’ actions, not their own. It is wholly un-American to punish the child for the father’s sins.”

Eshoo continues to describe her district, and the necessity of immigrants to the area’s economy.

“In my Silicon Valley District, many foreign born entrepreneurs have built uniquely American businesses - Google, Intel and Yahoo, to name a few. These companies and many like them have grown our nation’s economy, spread our influence, and created hundreds of thousands of jobs for our citizens,” Eshoo said. “These are the fruits of the American Dream.”

California's 18th Congressional District Fact Box
Population: 723,607
White: 51.7%
Black or African American: 6.1%
American Indian and Alaska Native: 1.3%
Asian: 9.2%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.5%
Other Race alone: 25.6%
Two or more races: 5.6%
Average Household Income: $84,724
Democrat: 165,571
Republican: 91,830
Other and Unaffiliated: 106,898
Winner of the 2012 election in California’s 18th Congressional District: Barack Obama
Winner of the 2012 election in California: Barack Obama

Reach guest contributor Sherrilyn Ling here



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