Friday, June 10, 2011

The Silicon Valley of the East

From a supplement to National Journal (NJ), also reposted on the Atlantic's site, with a different title (Atlantic):

Fairfax County is home to a quarter of all immigrants in metropolitan Washington and to 40 percent of the area's foreign-born Indians. It's no wonder that on a recent Thursday night at Worldgate Centre, a strip mall one block north of the Dulles Toll Road, almost 20 South Asians--mostly young families or groups of young men--streamed through the glass doors in just a matter of minutes to catch a movie.

KiranTeja Chadalawada was with friends on his way to see the Telugu-language film 100 Percent Love. A 22-year-old immigrant from southern India who is pursuing a master's degree in telecommunications at George Mason, he moved to Fairfax County in 2009 for school because a friend from India recommended it. "A senior from college was studying here and said it was a great [place] to learn and get an internship," Chadalawada said. After racking up a few years of experience in Virginia, he hopes to start a company of his own--but not in Virginia: He and his pals "are looking to go back to India," he said.

Increasingly, the members of the next generation of Indian entrepreneurs are looking to the East. They feel pulled by India's economic vigor and also pushed out by the daunting rules for U.S. visas. Advocates of immigration find it foolish to force smart, ambitious people to leave the United States simply because they were born elsewhere, especially after American taxpayers have invested so much in educating them.

"These guys create jobs," said Michael McVicker, an immigration lawyer whose Reston, Va., office is near the Dulles Toll Road. "They've created jobs for thousands of people, the vast majority of whom are Americans."

It was time for immigration reform a long time ago, but now is a fine time to get started.

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