On the theory nothing succeeds like success, President Obama listened to the success stories of immigrants who came to the U.S. and founded major corporate enterprises, urging them to carry their support for immigration reform to the Senate as it completes work on landmark legislation.
“I would urge the Senate to bring this to the floor,” he told the visiting entrepreneurs. “I hope that we can get the strongest possible vote out of the Senate so that we can then move to the House and get this done before the summer break.”
Alex Torrenegra described how he could not get a visa to work in the U.S. when he came at the age of 18 from Colombia. He told President Obama he enrolled as a student but started small businesses on the side. He founded VoiceBunny, described as the largest database of voice actors on the planet for voices used in video games, movies and electronic devices.
Chobani yogurt was the $1 billion success story shared by Hamdi Ulukaya, who recounted how he turned a shuttered factory in upstate New York into the largest yogurt factory in the world.
“The knowledge I had from back home, ” he said later, referencing his childhood in Turkey, “you know, working on a dairy farm making cheese and yogurts, and I would never thought one day I would put my knowledge in to work here.”
Other CEOs around the table included the head of Ethan Allen Interiors, Berry Farmsm and LA’s Guelaguetza Restaurante.
President Obama will not remain in Washington to lobby for immigration reform at the end of the week. He is making his own foreign trip to three nations in Africa starting Wednesday.