Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has launched a new political action group, FWD.us, to focus on immigration reform.
Zuckerberg, who announced the move through an editorial in The Washington Post, called U.S. immigration policy "strange" for a nation of immigrants and "unfit for today's world."
As a result, a deep roster of tech executives have banded to together to push a bipartisan policy agenda to change how the U.S. approaches immigration. The group has vowed to work with members of Congress from both parties, the administration, and state and local officials. It plans to use online and offline advocacy tools to build support for policy changes.
The leaders of FWD.us include: LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman; Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt; Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer; Dropbox CEO Drew Houston; angel investor Ron Conway; Chamath Palihapitiya of the Social+Capital Partnership VC fund; Joe Green, cofounder of the Causes Facebook app; Jim Breyer of the Accel Partners VC fund; Matt Cohler of the Benchmark VC fund; John Doerr and Mary Meeker of the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers VC fund; Paul Graham, cofounder of the Y Combinator seed capital firm; PayPal cofounder Max Levchin; Aditya Agarwal, VP of engineering at Dropbox; and Ruchi Sanghvi, a former Facebook engineer who started a company later acquired by Dropbox.
Specifically, the group believes a few key things are needed:
- Comprehensive immigration reform that begins with effective border security, allows a path to citizenship and lets us attract the most talented and hardest-working people, no matter where they were born.
- Higher standards and accountability in schools, support for good teachers and a much greater focus on learning about science, technology, engineering and math.
- Investment in breakthrough discoveries in scientific research and assurance that the benefits of the inventions belong to the public and not just to the few.
Many technology companies have been pushing for changes to the immigration policy, seeking fixes that would let foreign engineers and scientists remain in the U.S. post-graduation. They have been hoping for prompt action for a pair of bills introduced this year that would ease the shortage of skilled workers, in part by expanding the H-1B visa program. However, any changes have been stymied by the political mess known as comprehensive immigration reform.
Zuckerberg in his editorial noted that the economy of the last century was based on natural resources, industrial machines, and manual labor -- all areas with finite opportunities for wealth. But today's economy is based on knowledge and ideas, which are renewable and available to everyone, he said.
"Unlike oil fields, someone else knowing something doesn't prevent you from knowing it, too. In fact, the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be."
To create a so-called knowledge economy, the U.S. needs the most talented and hardest-working people, and that means the U.S. needs to change its policy toward immigrants, Zuckerberg argued.