By Josh Richman
Staff Writer, Bay Area News Group
Several Bay Area DREAMers are among the 20 who’ve been invited to join a hackathon later this month organized by Fwd.us, the lobbying group launched earlier this year by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley giants.
They’ll work next to some of the region’s top engineers and designers during the event Nov. 20-21 at LinkedIn’s Mountain View headquarters, says Fwd.us founder and president Joe Green.
“It’s well past time that we fix our broken immigration system – which isn’t working for American families in a modern global economy,” Green wrote in a statement posted on the group’s website. “Millions of DREAMers and their families with stories just like those participating in the Hackathon wait in limbo, unable to contribute fully to their communities and having to live in constant uncertainty – and we can’t wait any longer.”
The DREAMers will form teams with experienced mentors and collaborate on prototypes of products to aid the immigration reform movement, Green wrote, with teams starting to strategize in the next few weeks before the hackathon: 24 straight hours of coding. “Some of the top product innovators of our time will be on hand to provide guidance on projects, including Mark Zuckerberg, DrewHouston, Reid Hoffman, and Andrew Mason.”
“Our DREAMers are each an embodiment of the pressing need for meaningful immigration reform,” Green wrote. “They come from all over the country and a variety of backgrounds, but are united by the unique challenges facing undocumented families across America. Too many of our participants have gone years without seeing a family member or have been turned down for scholarships to college based solely on their undocumented status, but their courage has spurred them to continue pursuing their dreams.”
ISABEL BAHENA, 23, San Leandro, CA – Isabel came to the United States ten years ago from Mexico. Even though Isabel was pushed back a year during middle school because of her recent arrival to the United States, she excelled during her high school years. Isabel was the first member of her family to graduate from college. After having to turn down the opportunity for college scholarships due to her status, Isabel stayed close to home to afford college where she graduated from California State University East Bay and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. To Isabel, immigration reform means the opportunity finally to become visible in this country.