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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: SERGEY BRIN - GOOGLE FOUNDER

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35 year old Russian-born billionaire Sergey Brin has probably had more of an influence on the American public than nearly any one I've ever honored here at Immigrant of the Day. I don't think I need to tell all of you how important the company he founded is to the American economy and our national ethos. While Google has its detractors, it is fair to say that the firm that Brin co-founded in 1998 at the age of 24 is one of the most successful, admired companies in the world. Chances are you will be using a Google service several times today.

Brin is also a great philanthropist, as evidenced in today's New York Times. He is donating a large sum of money and his own DNA to study Parkinson's Disease. Brin will work with his wife, Anne Wojcicki, who runs a personal genomics service and they intend to recruit 10,000 people with Parkinsons's disease for their genetic research. Brin revealed in an intereview with the Times that he is at risk of Parkinson's because his mother Eugenia suffers from the illness. I should also say that I had the honor of recently serving with Eugenia Brin on the board of directors of a national non-profit refugee organization and she is a lovely, incredibly bright woman who genuinely cares about her fellow human being. 

Sergey Brin and his family are testament to the great contributions political refugees make in American society. His family entered the US in 1979 with the assistance of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. They were fleeing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and entered the US with little in the way of assets. While Brin's success is obviously spectacularly greater than nearly everyone else, the fact that his refugee story has a great ending is nothing unusual - even in Silicon Valley. Refugee families often start with nothing other than the generous support of the American taxpayer, various non-profit agencies and their kind American neighbors. But they give back a lot especially in terms of turning out great kids.

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