I recently wrote the Foreword for Unshackled, a new book co-authored by Soundarya Basubramani, a writer from India, and Sameer Khedekar, a veteran immigration lawyer. Unshackled breaks down how legal immigration works in America in a way that is friendly, accessible, and human. It’s filled with raw stories of high-skilled immigrants who walked unconventional paths and actionable guidance to navigate those paths.
Last August, Rajesh Setty sent me an email request from Soundarya when the book was just an idea. Soundarya shared her vision for the book and why she wanted to write it. Unsurprisingly, the motivation stemmed from personal frustrations with the immigration system in the U.S.
Legal immigration, especially for high-skilled immigrants, has been important to me for over a decade. I was deeply involved with the Startup Visa movement back in 2010. When that ultimately failed, I began supporting several grassroots movements like the GEiR program, invested in companies founded by immigrants, am an investor and board member of Boundless, an early LP in Unshackled Ventures (unrelated to this book), and even became the executive producer of a movie called For Here Or To Go. Unshackled seemed another step in the right direction.
I met with Soundarya and Sameer on a video call in late August. Their pitch had promise, and I encouraged them t set up a crowdfunding campaign. They did this, and I was one of 612 people who supported the campaign, which raised $48,340. Soon after the campaign ended, Soundarya received a $50,000 grant from Emergent Ventures for the project.
Soundarya kept me updated, and I got the unpublished manuscript for Unshacked five months later. I read it over one weekend, and I loved it. The book didn’t feel like a legal guide. Soundarya and Sameer managed to break down how legal immigration worked in simple and engaging language while capturing the raw emotions in the firsthand stories of immigrants. Having seen the book come to life from a mere idea just nine months ago, I agreed to write the foreword.
Less than a year from its inception, Soundarya and Sameer are hosting a grand event to launch their book on July 22nd, 2023, in Sunnyvale, CA. While I cannot attend the event, I hope you can make it and support a worthy project. Doug Rand, who currently serves as an advisor to the Director of USCIS, is set to be there for a fireside chat on the past and future of immigration policy.
Soundarya and Sameer – congratulations on publishing this important book. And, Rajesh, thanks for connecting us.