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Facebook's Zuckerberg Launches Group to Tackle Immigration Reform


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calififornia, March 7, 2013.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calififornia, March 7, 2013.

Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg, among the world’s wealthiest people, is wading into politics to help some of America’s poorest people – undocumented immigrants.

The multi-billionaire announced he and other high-tech entrepreneurs are launching a group called FWD.us to push for immigration reform in the United States.

“We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed article Thursday introducing the new non-partisan group.

Noting that America’s current economy is based primarily on knowledge and ideas, rather than the natural resources, industrial machines and manual labor of years past, Zuckerberg said the U.S. needs to train and attract the most talented and hardest working people. And many of them, he said, are foreign-born.

“Given all this, why do we kick out the more than 40 percent of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them?” he asked. “Why don’t we let entrepreneurs move here when they have what it takes to start companies that will create even more jobs?”

Zuckerberg, the descendent of immigrants, recalled his experience teaching an entrepreneurship class at an after-school program in his community.

“One day I asked my students what they thought about going to college. One of my top aspiring entrepreneurs told me he wasn’t sure that he’d be able to go to college because he’s undocumented. His family is from Mexico, and they moved here when he was a baby,” Zuckerberg wrote.

FWD.us, said Zuckerberg, has the support of tech giants such as Google chairman Eric Schmidt, LinkedIn chairman Reid Hoffman and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. He added that the group will be working with both political parties in Congress, as well as local and state officials to push for policy change.

Zuckerberg, 28, didn’t offer many details, but said the group would back comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, plus higher standards in schools and investment in scientific research.

The Facebook co-founder is one of a growing number of high-profile figures to join the immigration debate, which brought thousands of people to a rally at the U.S. capital and across the nation Wednesday.

Senators working on a new reform bill are trying to strike a balance between competing interests, including business and labor unions, tech companies, religious groups and political constituents. They are expected to introduce a draft bill next week that would update laws governing agricultural workers, low and high-skilled workers, border security and the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

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