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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Paypal Co-founder visits A&M, bats for immigration reform

Photo by Photo by: Madeline Sambrano

Paypal Co-founder Max Levchin visited A&M, Friday before the break to speak on topics such as immigration reform in the tech industry.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Max Levchin spent a day at the A&M campus soaking up the Aggie spirit over the break. Levchin made a stop by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering en route to his keynote at South by Southwest in Austin.
As part of his day-long visit, Levchin heard startup pitches from the students of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and spoke about various issues such as immigration and the digital-privacy battle between the FBI and Apple.
Levchin, who is currently serving as CEO of consumer finance company Affirm, strongly supported the president’s executive action to grant deferred action to undocumented immigrants who are the parents of lawful residents, an action the state of Texas is battling the federal government over in the Supreme Court.
Levchin reasoned that his support was partly due to his own background as an immigrant from the Ukrainian SSR under political asylum.
“I’m an immigrant,” Levchin said. “So, fairly easy answer. But fundamentally what I’m really saying is the president decided to solve a part of the problem through direct action, which I think is right, and I wish the Court would at least understand how a bunch of people in Silicon Valley think about it.”
Levchin is part of the group — a group started by leaders in the tech community to promote political policies and whose members include Mark Zuckerberg — that signed an amicus brief arguing that the Supreme Court rule in favour of the U.S. government in the United States v. Texas legal battle.
Levchin voiced his confusion at the current immigration system for foreign students who earn advanced college degrees in the United States.
“Once you have someone so well-qualified to work in Silicon Valley, it’s crazy to say to them, ‘Don’t get used to this place,'” Levchin said.
Levchin said the current system exports intellectual progression to competing nations at the expense of the United States.
“We have the example of China, where students are being welcomed with open arms to start businesses with the skills gained in the United states,” Levchin said.
Levchin said American authorities often combine all immigration issues into one general bracket.
“There are illegal immigration and border protection issues along with skilled labor immigration issues,” Levchin said. “While both are equally important they are not the same. It is important to address them separately”
During his visit he also exchanged ideas with professor Nancy Amato on how to improve STEM education and encourage women to go into computer science. Levchin said he hoped for an increase of women in technological careers and female role models in engineering.
“The few hobby horses I chase are on college campuses, like the subject of women and 5-year-old daughter who says she wants to be a princess from Frozen and think ‘There aren’t just enough women in computing,’” Levchin said.
Levchin said establishing a clear path to careers in computer engineering and sciences at an early stage in life is crucial to encourage women. Levchin said women need to feel they are welcome in the industry once they chose computer science as a career.
“We have almost every major company in Silicon Valley being run by a guy who’s a computer science major but you only think of Marissa Meyer of Yahoo! when you think about women in computing,” Levchin said.

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