Among the local business leaders joining Mayor Julian Castro on Friday to push for immigration reform was Graham Weston, chairman and founder of Rackspace, the San Antonio-based IT hosting company.
“To me, you can’t be pro-business without being pro-immigration reform,” Weston said.
His company hires thousands. Among them, top people in their fields from other countries.
“We struggle. We have to fight for every single immigrant we try to recruit. It’s a constant struggle,” Weston said.
He said they must have lawyers representing them in hopes of getting one of the few visas available.
Supporters of the compromise now before Congress have said comprehensive immigration reform could simplify the process and allow more to enter the country to study and work.
Weston said if they’re educated here, they should be allowed to stay.
Rackspace also has its Cloud Academy to help create homegrown talent for its company and other information technology companies.
“We should be building a brain trust in our country and in our city everyday with these talented people,” Weston said.
On Wednesday, Castro joined President Obama at the White House ahead of the Senate voting to begin debate on the issue.
“We want the United States to always be the place for people with great ideas and great dreams to succeed,” Castro said.
However, Castro said he predicts a close vote later this summer judging by the opposition in Congress.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann, of Minnesota, said, “The people who will be hurt the most are Hispanics and African-Americans who already suffer from very high levels of unemployment.”
Castro said those workers already are being hired.
“Even at that, there’s a shortage often times,” Castro said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he does see some benefits.
“Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years,” Bush said.
But he also said, “Immigrants are more fertile. They love families. They have more intact families and they bring a younger population.”