In his inauguration speech Monday, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to pass legislation that will make it easier for immigrants--especially those who wish to create businesses--to thrive in the United States.
"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity," Obama said.
But immigration reform won't come easy, and that's why Laurene Powell Jobs today launched TheDreamIsNow.org, an online petition supporting the Dream Act, a bill that would grant a path to citizenship to undocumented young people who enroll in college or join the military. The site features hundreds of young, American-educated undocumented immigrants explaining how citizenship would improve their lives. Eventually, Powell Jobs and Davis Guggenheim--a filmmaker who's also working on the project--plan to use these self-shot videos to compose a documentary about the need for immigration reform.
Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs--whose own biological father was a Syrian immigrant--has rallied behind youth causes for over a decade. In 1997, she founded College Track, a non-profit that assists underprivileged young people in the college application process. Twenty percent of those students are undocumented.
"There needed to be a demystification--to put a face to these people, to hear the individual stories," Powell Jobs told Yahoo News. "They're our children's friends. They are people we know. This is a huge national problem that needs resolution."
The Dream Act has bounced around Congress since its formation in 2001. While it has has received bipartisan support, the act has floundered in Congress. The closest it came to enactment was December 2010, when the House of Representatives passed it. But then it failed to reach the 60-vote minimum in the Senate.
The Powell Jobs initiative doesn't deal exclusively with entrepreneurs, but a passage of the Dream Act would be a step in the right direction for young, ambitious founders who were born abroad and lack the necessary documents to incorporate their businesses.
"The documentary becomes a living, breathing petition," Guggenheim told Yahoo. "These 'Dream'ers are putting everything on the line. When they come out like this, they are saying, 'I'm ready to risk it all for what I believe.'"