Facebook Founder Fights for Immigration Reform Amidst Heated Election Season

As the U.S. tech industry continues to be a dominating force on the world stage, many insiders in the field credit immigrants for elevating the industry with their strong work ethic and talent for innovation. Several tech trailblazers, including Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, and Reid Hoffman, have advocated for immigration reform that would expand visa eligibility for highly skilled immigrants who want to live and work in the United States and allow a pathway to legal citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But with several presidential frontrunners calling for a more rigid and draconian immigration policy, including the limitation of visas and mass deportation, the opportunity for immigrants to pursue the American dream while contributing to our nation’s economic infrastructure is being threatened. But a new advocacy group founded by Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is fighting for immigration reform by campaigning for more flexible immigration laws.

The group, known as FWD.us, was launched in 2013 and is projected to spend over $10 million in the next year alone, focusing on undecided voters in so-called “battleground states” who can determine the course of the presidential election next November. The group will fund research and polling efforts, and place ads in hopes of spreading the message to potential voters that immigration reform is crucial to the next generation of Americans. A mission statement featured on the group’s website explains that FWD.us’s purpose is to “mobilize the tech community to support policies that keep the American dream achievable in the 21st century. We support comprehensive immigration reform, improving the quality of American education, and encouraging more investment in American education.” [See Mark Zuckerberg Announces $10 Million Campaign to Promote Immigration Reform, by staff writer, Fox News Latino, 02.Dec.2015.]

Rob Jesmer, an experienced Republican political operative and campaign manager at FWD.us, referenced recent polling in an interview with Fox News Latino that shows the majority of Americans support some kind of immigration reform, despite repeated anti-immigration rhetoric favored by some current presidential candidates. “It’s a good time to inform people of the stakes. There are several [Republican candidates] who are out of the mainstream … From a policy situation, if we nominate any of those people, we are going to lose. No two ways about it.”

Zuckerberg himself, defined his stance on immigration reform in a public speaking engagement in San Francisco several years ago, clarifying that it should apply to all hardworking immigrants, and not just those who can benefit the tech industry. “There are 11 million undocumented people who came here to work hard and contribute to the country,” he said, “and I don’t think it’s quite as polarized as people always say.”

Immigration has been a defining factor in our nation’s success since its inception, and immigrants have continued to propel the United States forward into the tech-dominated 21st century. But now immigration reform is being threatened by presidential candidates who insist on rigid and outdated laws, despite the fact that the majority of Americans don’t agree. Tech titans like Zuckerberg who are willing to use their money, power, and influence to advocate for immigrants may be our best hope for ensuring that reasonable, flexible immigration policies survive to benefit the next generation of Americans.


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