On April 10, Mark Zuckerberg launched an organization created in the goal of moving this country forward with a smart and comprehensive immigration reform. Filled with creators and supporters ranging from Bill Gates to the founders and CEOs of billion-dollar businesses such as Yelp, Netflix, and Groupon, Zuckerberg’s super group FWD.us is actively changing hearts and minds about the benefits of immigration reform.
Zuckerberg and his Silicon Valley peers cannot have come at a better time: Representatives need all of the push they can get to bring up and pass immigration reform in the House, and help from influential voices is extremely timely.
The tension over a pathway to citizenship and increased border control continues to stall immigration reform in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, thousands of intelligent, highly skilled, and capable workers are being educated at our finest universities, and then sent back home. This problem, known as “brain drain,” has become common under our current immigration system, which does not allow for enough of these incredibly talented men and women to easily obtain permanent visas or citizenship in our country.
While America has cultivated the talented minds behind tech giants such as Google and Microsoft, current immigration policy discourages innovation, rather than encouraging it. Student visas are extremely limiting, and oftentimes the process is so irritating that some of the brightest minds will leave the U.S. for jobs in other nations. In fact, currently 40% of all foreign students are forced to leave the U.S. each year because the current visa system creates a very rough path to permanent residency.
This is the exact problem that Zuckerberg’s group of Silicon Valley CEOs hopes to fix. As he explained in his Washington Post article, fixed resources and commodities are no longer the judge of a nation’s economic power. Instead, nations are staying relevant in the international market by utilizing the knowledge and innovative ideas of their citizens. In doing so, a nation’s economic prowess is now directly related to the talent that it attracts and cultivates. While the U.S. is certainly not among the lowest skilled nations, job openings in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), are becoming a problem, as thousands of jobs continue to be unfilled nationwide.
Immigration reform is an intriguing issue. It is one of few causes that manage to strike a balance in its supporters between both ends of the economic and social spectrum. While sending enormous waves of illegal immigrants, DREAMers, and passionate supporters to Capitol Hill certainly sends the nation a message, the fact remains: Money talks.
Having the backing of our nation’s smartest individuals and innovators is definitely a huge plus for all proponents of reform. The question is, can Zuckerberg and his super group truly have an impact on the outcome of reform? Or is its push a little too late? Only time will tell, but the lobbying power brought by FWD.us may be the push the House needs to get our nation the smart immigration reform it deserves.