Jun 27, 2013 · 4 minutes

In an historic vote, the US Senate has approved a comprehensive immigration bill that, if signed into law, will provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and enact a number of tech-friendly measures, including an increase in the quota for high-skilled immigrants, the creation of a “startup visa” for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start companies in the US, and allowing more avenues for candidates who are highly qualified in science, engineering, technology, or math to stay in the country.

The Senate passed the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” by 68 votes to 32, giving the legislation crucial momentum as it heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. There it will meet a Republican opposition that, thanks to recent redistricting, feels less threatened by the results of the last Presidential election, when Mitt Romney was thumped by President Obama among Hispanic voters and other minority groups.

In the meantime, however, major figures from the tech industry are in celebration mode. Here we’ve collected some of the initial responses.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft

“Today, the Senate took a significant step toward reforming our nation’s outdated immigration policies. If enacted, these changes will strengthen our economic security, foster innovation and enable continued job growth in the US. Equally important, the legislation makes critical investments in our workforce by strengthening STEM education in the United States, including instruction focused on computer science.”

Joe Green, president, FWD.us 
“Today’s vote represents a monumental step forward for comprehensive immigration reform that will do right by the American economy and American families... We recognize that the House will have its own approach to components of reform, and we know that in order for this vitally important process to move forward, the House will work its will as it considers ways to fix our broken, archaic immigration system."

Michael McGeary, director, Engine Advocacy

“The vote today is a landmark and historic achievement in the fight for immigration reform. That fight continues. We have to remain strong and work with our friends in the House of Representatives to make immigration reform a reality this summer.”

John Doerr, general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and co-chair of TechNet

“The passage of this monumental, bipartisan legislation is a terrific victory for our country. America’s economic success has always been based upon its ability to attract the best talent, no matter where they were born.”

Somesh Dash, principal, Institutional Venture Partners, and co-organizer, March for Innovation

“The passage of the comprehensive immigration bill by the Senate is a landmark achievement. Both parties came together quickly to highlight the greatest common good versus emphasizing core differences.”

John Feinblatt, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's chief policy advisor

"With this afternoon's bipartisan vote in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, we are halfway to making history and fixing our broken immigration system. In order to compete with other countries, we must have an immigration system that fits the 21st century economy and encourages talented individuals from all over the world to bring their ideas, their businesses, and their innovations here. Other countries are rolling out the red carpet. Now, the House must follow the Senate's lead."

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco and co-chair of TechNet

“America’s economic success stems from our culture of innovation and the constant infusion of new ideas from a skilled and talented workforce. Now – as the House of Representatives takes up the issue – Cisco will continue to work with our legislative leaders to ensure that the reforms help attract the best, the brightest, and the most ambitious minds from around the world to our shores.”

Safra Catz, President & CFO, Oracle and a member of TechNet's executive council

“With approval of this bill, the Senate is sending a powerful signal that America is open for business, strengthening our economy and providing new opportunities for our workers.”

Craig Montuori, executive director of Politihacks

“I'm grateful for the Senate for taking this historic step – for the sake of startup founders and agriculture workers; for the sake of DREAMers and separated families. There's a lot of work still to be done before a bill will come to the President for his signature, and the startup community is ready and willing to insist that DC live up to the promise and move beyond talk to implement solutions to the country's immigration problems.”

Ali Noorani, executive director, National Immigration Forum

"Today's passage reminds us that immigration is about people not just fences. We’ve made real progress because our political leaders are finally realizing that this isn’t about politics; it’s about who we are as a country and how we fulfill our nation’s promise."

President Barack Obama (not really a tech guy)

"Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all."

Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the House (neither is she)

“Today, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate voted to reaffirm our values, advance our ideals, and honor our history as a nation of immigrants by passing comprehensive immigration reform.  With this action, the Senate moved our country one step closer to achieving commonsense reform that reflects our heritage and makes America more American. Now, it’s the House’s turn to act."

[Illustration by Aleks Sennwald]