DREAMer Hackathon – Why Lawmakers Still Won’t Listen

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Remember our first annual LATISM Hackathon event during the LATISM’13 Conference in September?

Today marks the second day of the DREAMer Hackathon, exactly two months after our conference, hosted by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the LinkedIn headquarters in California.

Zuckerberg decided to host the event to raise awareness of national issues through social media. Twenty young, undocumented programmers are coding for 24 hours straight developing pro-immigration reform apps. Not only will they be developing new applications to share DREAMer stories to members of Congress who will be working on the immigration reform bill, but also to demonstrate to lawmakers that their contributions are both valuable and technologically advanced, even if they came here illegally.

Part of a larger movement through FWD.us, the Hackathon is another example of current tech titans’ push for better pathways to citizenship as well as an increase in the number of granted skilled H-1B visas to qualified applicants. Its location in Silicon Valley will give these twenty participants a chance to show their skills and tell their stories to various leaders of social media and technology ventures.

So why, then, is Immigration Reform no longer at the forefront of congressional debate?

Amidst hunger strikes, candlelight vigils, protests on Washington and numerous arrests for civil disobedience over the last few weeks, the focus has shifted entirely to the rocky launch of the Affordable Care Act’s website, at least in the House of Representatives. By blatantly ignoring the bill passed by the Senate that included the necessary pathway to citizenship legislation, the House has decided to focus its efforts on attacking President Obama’s health care reform instead.

Approximately 80% of the 11.7 million undocumented individuals (see Pew Research Center) are from Latin American countries and 51% of all undocumented immigrants are women, which makes it safe to guess that Republican leaders apparently do not feel that the Latino or female votes will be needed to win in the 2014 midterm elections. These House Republicans will continue to stall on reform as long as they remain comfortable relying on their gerrymandered districts who still support strict immigration policies.

Despite the efforts of Zuckerberg and the Hackathon events, it seems entirely possible that immigration reform will have to wait even longer. Apparently the House ended their lawmaking for 2013 a month early.

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