These days it is tough to have a tech conference without things getting political. Such was the case Tuesday, as immigration issues took center stage at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle.
Buzz: There were impassioned speeches from expected corners, including Microsoft president Brad Smith, who has promised President Trump will have to go through him to deport any Microsoft Dreamers, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has sued the federal government 19 times since Trump took office.
But the most powerful voices came from a pair of immigrants, who the conference organizers gave the stage in an effort to put real faces and stories into the conversation.
The Dreamer: Citlaly Ramirez spoke about coming to America at age 8, learning to speak English, and advancing from ESL classes to honors classes to earning a scholarship at Western Washington University to study technology.
Ramirez, now a junior at WWU, is one of the 800,000 Dreamers whose legal ability to work has been cast in doubt.
The Entrepreneur: Venture Kits CEO Leslie Feinzaig, who grew up in Costa Rica but whose family is of Polish ancestry, talked about the pain she experienced seeing Nazis marching recently in Charlottesville while remember the pictures of her grandparents who were forced to leave Poland.
"If you, unlike me, get a vote, I ask that you put your humanity over politics," she said.
The Reaction: Immigration attorney Andrew Chan said he was glad to see more attention being paid to the issue, but noted that the lack of clarity has lots of his clients on edge
"It's an extremely anxious time," said Chan, who works for MacDonald Hoague & Bayless. "There is so much noise every day. iI's very difficult to separate the noise from fact."