Editor’s note: Hall of Fame ceremony offers reminder of who helped build Washington

I confess I’m not a student of immigration policy.

What I know is that there seems to be broad support for handing out more green cards to the super-smart foreign nationals who graduate from our universities, so they can remain in this country and help build companies that will produce the jobs of the future.

I also know that legislative proposals to help people stay here have so far failed to pass, in part because supporters of immigration reform worry that helping a select few will rob the movement of important leverage for assisting even more.

I found myself reflecting on the consequences of the stalemate last week as I listened to the testimonials for this year’s inductees into the Washington Business Hall of Fame.

The honorees included Giuseppe Cecchi, an engineer from Milan sent to Washington to scout business opportunities. He found a good one: The Watergate complex. That project ultimately led him to establish his own development company, now known as the IDI Group Cos., which went on to create Leisure World and other communities. His proudest? The conversion of the 1,684-unit Parkfairfax complex in Alexandria from apartments to condominiums, a transformation accomplished without forcing tenants to move, allowing renters to be homeowners.

Next up: John R. Darvish, originally from Iran. He came to the United States to be a doctor, and decided he liked selling cars more. Darcars Automotive Group now runs 32 franchises in the Washington area, and employs more than 1,900 people.

Following Darvish was a Bolivian who grew up in Argentina, M. Charito Kurvant, now president of Creative Associates International, a D.C. firm specializing in community development issues overseas. She’s been a stalwart of local civic and charity organizations.

You learn as a child that immigrants built this country. The Hall of Fame ceremony showed that still to be true.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.

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