Americans know the importance of Dec. 7, 1941, when a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor resulted in the deaths of 2,400 Americans. Another Dec. 7 event is worth remembering, one that isn’t known by nearly as many people, yet is “connected in an interesting way to the events that were unleashed on Dec. 7, 1941,” writes Brad Smith, Microsoft president, and Carol Ann Browne, Microsoft director of executive communications, in a new post in the “Today in Technology” series on LinkedIn.

On Dec. 7, 1932, Americans opened their newspapers to read about a controversial decision by the U.S. to grant a visa to a foreigner named Albert Einstein. Granting such a visa was opposed by some Americans, who suspected the world-famous physicist of many things, including being a Communist, with concerns that he would hurt the U.S.

The opposite was the case, as we all know now. Einstein would play a role in bringing World War II to an end by urging President Roosevelt to launch what would become the Manhattan Project to create the world’s first atomic weapon.

“None of this means that every person who wants to enter the country should be permitted to do so,” Smith and Browne write. “Immigration remains complicated, in the United States and every other country. But Einstein’s story reminds us of the enormous upside of attracting the best talent in the world – and the fact that the fullness of this talent and its potential contributions only emerge over time. At a time when Congress (hopefully) will soon be turning its attention to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and a new generation of Dreamers, and at a time when high-skilled talent from some countries confront a bureaucratic green card backlog, immigration remains an opportunity not just for immigrants, but for all of us who were born in the United States that can benefit from their presence.”

Dec. 7, Smith and Browne write, is a date for remembering “the terrible forces that can divide us. As well as the more hopeful steps that can bring us together.”

Read the full post on LinkedIn.

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