New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a handful of Silicon Valley’s top technology investors are planning a nation-wide social media campaign to pressure congress to pass immigration reform. The so-called “virtual march” will attempt to galvanize thousands of netizens to email, tweet, and facebook their leaders to come up with a solution that solves the industry’s looming skills shortage.
“Usually in Washington when you try to push an issue, people knock on senators and congressmens doors, they hire paid lobbyists,” says Jonathan Feinblatt, policy advisor to Bloomberg, “but what we’re doing is actually using the tools of the technology trade–email, and facebook, and social networking–too actually raise the voice of the innovators in this country.”
To be sure, both Republicans and Democrats are bound together in a rare bi-partisan lovefest over the need for more high-skilled immigrants. They differ in how low-skilled and undocumented workers should be let into the country, and have been unable to separate low-skilled and high-skilled reform into different bills.
There’s no guarantee that congress will find a compromise. As recently as last week, Senator John McCain got heckled at an angry town hall for attempting to persuade Arizona residents to accept a more lenient policy towards undocumented workers. Feinblatt argues that an overwhelming social media protest the consequences for failing to pass a bill will be greater than passing a relatively unpopular bill.
Sometime in the spring, Bloomberg will join investors, such as SV Angel’s Ron Conway, Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson, and 500 Startups’ Dave McClure, in galvanizing their own communities for a massive online march. Readers can learn more about the campaign at http://www.marchforinnovation.com/