Fair warning: I'm going to get on my soapbox ( just this once). This morning, I was very happy to read that a federal judge has temporarily blocked the implementation of key parts of Arizona's new immigration law. This ruling, I believe, is not only a good thing for the country; it is a good thing for the advertising industry as well. Why? Simply because the U.S. is not producing enough technology workers to go around and this debate has a chilling effect on real reform that would assure access to the best and brightest tech minds who want to work in the biggest and best tech market in the world.
However you feel about Arizona's law, and whether or not you believe that it unconstitutionally "marks" all Hispanic-looking people for police stops on suspicion of being illegal, it has certainly polarized the issue across the entire country and has prevented us from tackling much-needed immigration reform. Some may think that fights like the Arizona law are too "political" or divisive for an industry like the advertising industry to get involved with. I think the opposite. Admittedly, I start with a strong personal bias. My wife is Mexican and our two daughters are citizens of both Mexico and the U.S. Of course, given the current demographic trends in the U.S., they won't be so much of a minority much longer.
More important, however, is the fact that like virtually every other major industry today, advertising is finding itself more and more powered by and dependent on technology. Like virtually every other industry today, advertising needs to hire more and more workers trained and savvy in technology-related fields. Like virtually every other industry today, advertising can't find enough of those folks. As virtually all other similarly situated U.S. companies have done over our history -- whether their businesses were in railroads or steel or coal or rocket science or nuclear engineering or medicine -- advertising is going to need to look to immigration to find those workers.
What does the need for immigrant technology workers have to do with the temporary injunction issued against Arizona's new law designed to curb illegal immigration across its border from Mexico? A lot. U.S Senator Chuck Schumer, among others, is championing immigration reform that would give green cards for foreign students who receive graduate degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) disciplines. However, this legislation has been delayed because of the polarizing effect of the Arizona legislation.
Without rational immigration reform, we are diminishing our chances to help start the next Google (whose co-founder was a Russian immigrant) or Intel (whose founder was Hungarian) or Yahoo (with a co-founder from Taiwan). This list could go on for pages. The impact that those companies have had ---and will continue to have -- on the advertising industry is enormous. I believe that we should all applaud the blocking of Arizona's immigration law. What do you think?