POLITICS
05/16/2013 03:15 pm ET Updated May 17, 2013

OFA Urges Immigration Reform For Tech Innovation: 'We Want To Keep That Edge'

WASHINGTON -- Organizing for Action, the Obama-allied group that sprang from President Barack Obama's campaign network, began its video-driven push for immigration reform on Thursday with the personal story of an immigrant who expanded his business in the United States.

OFA previewed its plan in March to share personal stories on immigration, but released the first video on Thursday. It focuses not on undocumented immigrants, but on tech -- and comes just a few days after the group signed on to a "March for Innovation" with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pro-immigration reform group, The Partnership for a New American Economy.

In the video, Faizan Buzdar, the founder and CEO of Convo.com, talks about difficulties setting up an office in San Francisco, which has taken more than a year -- "light-years" for a start-up. Buzdar immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan.

"As we look at the future, economies are going to be built on innovation," Buzdar says. "And to be the leader in innovation and new companies, it is in the best interest of the U.S. to reform immigration."

The March for Innovation is bipartisan, and will also include Republicans for Immigration Reform as well as other groups. The virtual "march" will take place next Wednesday and Thursday on online venues, including HuffPost Live.

President Barack Obama has made immigraton reform one of his top priorities for this year, and OFA has gathered 7,000 stories from undocumented immigrants to be distributed on social media, The New York Times reported in March. OFA will release more stories in its "American Stories" series in the future.

The Senate is currently working on an immigration bill put forward by the bipartisan "gang of eight," which Obama has said differs from his exact plan but is close enough that he would support it. The Judiciary Committee is amending the bill this month before it heads to the Senate floor, likely next month. A group in the House is also working on an immigration reform bill, but has hit some gridlocks and may not release its plan as a group, according to reports.

Among other issues, Congress is considering high-skilled visas that members and supporters hope will bring more entrepreneurs and innovative workers to the United States.

In the video released on Thursday, OFA argued that Republicans should be able to get behind immigration reform that would help people like Buzdar to open offices and companies in the country.

"It's easily an issue that can have bipartisan support," Buzdar says. "New businesses and technologies open up new jobs, open up new education opportunities. It almost seems like common sense to say that we have this edge in terms of being the center of the world for innovation, and we want to keep that edge."

CORRECTION: The original article incorrectly stated that Organizing for Action is a Democratic group. It is non-partisan, but allied with President Barack Obama.

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