On the same day that many Irish Americans gathered at Capitol Hill to help push for comprehensive immigration reform, The Washington Post ran an editorial from Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in which he explained his reasoning behind launching Fwd.us, a new lobby for immigration reform group.
“We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants,” writes Zuckerberg in his editorial. “And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.”
In the editorial, Zuckerberg explained how he was inspired to use his influence to help spur an immigration reform movement. While teaching a middle-school entrepreneurial class, one of his most promising students, who is undocumented, explained he may never get to go to college in the US despite living here since he was a baby.
Zuckerberg goes on to write that students like the one he encountered in his class should have the same opportunities that preceding generations had. “Today’s students should have the same opportunities — but our current system blocks them.”
Further, Zuckerberg touches upon how “knowledge” driven our economy is today, as opposed to a labor or mechanically driven one of the past. To Zuckerberg, our economy and culture thrive on new ideas and the sharing of those ideas; through “unfit” immigration policy, we are essentially blocking ourselves from progressing.
“In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country. A knowledge economy can scale further, create better jobs and provide a higher quality of living for everyone in our nation.”
“We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants,” writes Zuckerberg, “And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.”
“Given all this, why do we kick out the more than 40 percent of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them? Why do we offer so few H-1B visas for talented specialists that the supply runs out within days of becoming available each year, even though we know each of these jobs will create two or three more American jobs in return? Why don’t we let entrepreneurs move here when they have what it takes to start companies that will create even more jobs?”
With these questions in mind, Zuckerberg helped launch Fwd.us (pronounced Forward US). The group’s principles are outlined on its website:
- Secure the Border: Provide law enforcement the tools necessary to secure the border.
- Future Workers: Establish a streamlined process for admitting future workers to ensure that we continue to promote innovation and meet our workforce needs. Modifications to the guest worker program must also include an increase in the number of H-1B visas to attract the world’s best and the brightest workers, while implementing reforms that encourage this talent to permanently reside in the U.S.
- Employment Verification Program: Develop a simple and effective employment verification system.
- Pathway to Citizenship: Create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States that do not have legal status.
- Reforming the Legal System: Reform the legal immigration system to better strengthen the American economy and American families.
Zuckerberg is joining forces with some of the biggest names from Silicon Valley, who he says have all benefited from the economic shift. “We believe that we have a responsibility to work together to ensure that all members of our society gain from the rewards of the modern knowledge economy,” says Zuckerberg.
Through Fwd.us, Zuckerberg hopes to work with politicians on all levels from local government straight up to Congress and utilize both online and offline resources.
In closing, Zuckerberg writes, “Across America, creative, hard working people in coffee shops, dorm rooms and garages are creating the next era of growth. Let’s embrace our future as a knowledge economy and help them — and all of us — reach our full potential."