Immigration Reform 2013: Why is Mark Zuckerberg Promoting It With Huge Ad Campaigns?

Mark Zuckerberg's social network is expanding beyond the private sector: Zuckerberg-backed FWD.us is launching a television "blitz," as Politico reports, to bring conservatives to support immigration reform.

Both Republican politicians Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham are featured prominently in the advertisements, demonstrating the "tough but fair" understanding of immigration reform that is attracting conservatives to the bill. The ads are expected to air in seven states and cost over seven figures. 

It's no surprise that the founder of Facebook would be so adamantly in favor of immigration reform. The ads show that Mark Zuckerberg, and FWD.us, the Silicon Valley organization that is sponsoring the campaign, are determined to promote the needs of the "information economy," which includes comprehensive immigration reform in order to best fill the hiring gaps so common in the new economy. Of course, the support of Silicon Valley reveals a larger problem in American labor practices: Americans simply are not skilled enough (or trained in the right ways) to be competitive in the technology world. In order to fill this gap, technology companies must turn elsewhere: to the many immigrants who have come to the United States to learn the very skills our own citizens are lacking in. As the website for FWD.us proclaims, "47% of engineering students" in the United States are immigrants, and many are required to leave under our current inadequate system, a detriment to the businesses and innovators in Silicon Valley. The "brain drain" of successful, skilled employees for the information age, whom are unable to get appropriate work certification in the United States in spite of their education here, has plagued the technology industry since its genesis. 

The tech industry is particularly bothered by the complicated H1-B visa, which requires workers to remain with their sponsoring employer unless they can find another employer to sponsor them. That can be a frustrating and challenging process in the high-turnover world of Silicon Valley. 

As Zuckerberg wrote in a recent op-ed for the Washington Post, "we have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants." It’s clear that Silicon Valley is dedicated to making one that makes a bit more sense, if only for Silicon Valley.  

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Hannah Kapp-Klote

Progressive, midwestern, overzealous adjective user.

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