When an unnamed TechStars founder was arrested by U.S. immigration authorities just days ago, he sent out one email prior to being put in shackles. That email went to Katie Rae and others in the TechStars community and through a whole lot of work and pressure on governors and members of Congress, the founder was released two days later.
That’s the story that TechStars’ Reed Sturtevant told yesterday at Demo Day, as an introduction to Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.
With immigration reform suddenly a possibility thanks to the recent election, Noorani took the stage and asked the TechStars audience to join the push for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.
The strategy? Bibles, badges, and business.
Noorani urged listeners to leverage their networks, particularly in Southern and Southwestern states. Finally, he asked the startup community to donate to the cause.
“What I want to leave you with is the sense that this is different ” he said. “This is not just about Latino votes, this is not just about high skill needs. The president needs to lead. And Congress needs to follow.”
I personally liked the inclusion of his pitch, both because I’m generally supportive of the cause and because high skilled immigration is a critical issue for startups.
But I talked to others who didn’t appreciate the plea for donations, so I’m curious to hear how others felt. Where should TechStars draw the line when it comes to advocating for issues in the political realm? Should it help build support for things like immigration reform or just stick to helping its companies?