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Why Mark Zuckerberg Is Pushing For Immigration Reform

Published: April 12, 2013 | 11:06 pm
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Facebook CEO Zuckerberg listens to a question during a media event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park

(CNA)-America has always been a nation of immigrants, but today, there is general agreement that the U.S. immigration system is broken. There are 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows, and tens of thousands of the most promising immigrants are forced to leave the country thanks to outdated visa rules. Now, some of the wealthiest and most successful tech executives and investors in the country — led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg – are calling for immigration reform, TIME reports.

“We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants,” Zuckerberg wrote Thursday in The Washington Post. “And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.” Zuckerberg has joined forces with top executives and founders from Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn to launch a new organization called FWD.us, with the goal of influencing the current debate.

Visa reform is particularly important for these tech titans, because immigrants have played such an important role in Silicon Valley. “Immigrants are far more likely than natives to study science and engineering and more likely to produce innovations in the form of patents,” University of California economist Gordon Hanson wrote in a 2011 study.

Many tech executives — starting with the late Steve Jobs — have argued that there aren’t enough American-born math and science graduates to fill the engineering jobs in Silicon Valley’s booming economy, and thus we need to attract, and keep, the best and brightest foreign-born workers.

For Zuckerberg, as for so many Americans, immigration is also a personal issue. “My great-grandparents came through Ellis Island,” he wrote. “My grandfathers were a mailman and a police officer. My parents are doctors. I started a company. None of this could have happened without a welcoming immigration policy, a great education system and the world’s leading scientific community that created the Internet.”

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