Wasn’t Christopher Columbus technically an illegal immigrant? What about scores of Europeans who followed him in boats without visas to found and build America?
Immigrants are the foundation of this country and provide us with brainpower. We don’t bring immigrants to add diversity, it’s to increase innovation, fill jobs, and to lift the economy.
My path to getting where I am now is a classic example of an immigrant’s journey to America. I arrived in the United States in 1991 from a village in Punjab, India at age 21, bringing with me two main things: passion and obsession.
After working for IBM in San Jose, Calif. in 1992, I decided to forge a more independent path by creating a startup. As a Sikh, I strove to be a turbaned version of the many successful Silicon Valley veteran entrepreneurs who came before me and have long created amazing companies, jobs, and huge gains in shareholder value.
We all have a common goal to provide a better life for our children and to make an impact in a country that values hard work and innovation. Sure, I look different from many Americans. I stand out in a crowd, but isn’t that also an amazing thing about America? I can be who I am, and it has never affected my ability to succeed.
My journey as an immigrant has allowed me to accomplish things I could never have even imagined had I stayed in India. I worked very hard and became co-founder and president of a cybersecurity startup.
Recently, my company received its first big venture capital funding from a consortium of Silicon Valley veteran investors. Relatively few tech entrepreneurs are able to land such an investment.
For me, there was no easy success. I have seen more failures than success along the way amid the boom and bust cycle of the technology industry over the past 25 years. Somehow, I was able to continue and make it through to today. I consider myself more of a survivor than a winner.
Despite the current political climate, in which President Donald Trump demonizes certain immigrants, I believe that immigrants contribute positively to America. As an immigrant and Sikh, I feel compelled to mention this. I wish to defend the powerless and empower them to achieve their dreams. I wish everyone in government would too including the president, who should trade in his divisive tone and belligerence to emphasize unity and international diplomacy.
By Harry Singh for FORTUNE
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