As an immigrant, I left the world I knew in hopes of achieving more for myself and my family in what is still the land of opportunity and the globe's great meritocracy.
Immigrants like me have founded many of America's greatest companies. In fact, more than 40 percent of America's Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant, according to a study conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan coalition of more than 400 prominent business leaders and mayors.
We have created many of the brands that make America shine in the global marketplace. We have invented the products that have created new companies and new jobs for American workers.
An increasing number of U.S. university graduates with advanced degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are foreign-born -- currently over 50 percent in many STEM fields. Yet after we invest in their education and they graduate from our universities, there is no clear way for many of these highly-trained highly-skilled graduates to stay and contribute their knowledge to the American work force.
There are senseless barriers standing in the way of today's immigrants, making it harder for tomorrow's great American companies to be founded, harder for tomorrow's great American brands to be created, harder for tomorrow's great American products to be invented, and harder for tomorrow's key industries to attract to the talent they need to compete and grow in the global marketplace.
I came here from my native Chile to study Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. I was able to secure an H-1B temporary high skilled visa with relative ease, and by 1987 I had founded Devon Systems International. My proudest achievement as an American is really tens of thousands of achievements: the tens of thousands of jobs I helped create for Americans.
But if I were to try to come to America today, the likelihood is I would be turned away. Despite the clear benefit that temporary high-skilled workers add to our economy, these visas face arbitrarily low caps. Most years, the supply is exhausted within days.
The very true but often misunderstood fact about immigration is that it is not a zero-sum game. If a company can recruit the best workers, it will grow and create more jobs for others. It's that's simple.
As an immigrant, I am grateful for the experiences America has given me. As an American, I am grateful that our country has historically been so open to the hardest-working and brightest minds the world over.
On the day I became a citizen, the judge who administered my oath said I never had to stop loving the country I was born in. What I did have to do was pledge my allegiance here, respect our laws, and serve if called. From the moment I took that oath, I have never wavered in that allegiance, in my respect for our laws, or my desire to serve this great country.
And in each and every election year, on the second Tuesday in November, I take one of my children to the polling booth with me to help instill that same love of country and belief in our government and society. For the STEM grads and other job creators we are training in our universities, I hope Congress will provide the green cards they need to join our work force. For the entrepreneurs who want to come here to start businesses and create American jobs, I hope that Congress will come to its senses and roll out the red carpet. And for my children and tomorrow's generation of leaders, I hope that we will once again be true to our tradition of openness and ensure America continues to be the place that those looking for a better life want to and can come join.
Mr. Conde, the former CEO of SunGard Data Systems, is affiliated with the Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of mayors and business leaders advocating immigration reform.