Zuckerberg’s new venture advocates immigration reform

Support from top honchos of the tech world.

By Crystal Tsoi

WASHINGTON, DC: Almost a year after Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg rang the opening bell for NASDAQ, making his social media company public, the Silicon Valley mogul has embarked on a new venture off Wall Street and along the Beltway.

Fwd.us is a joint endeavor from “leading innovators, job creators, business owners and founders from the tech community” and one of the first issues on its agenda is immigration, an issue that has gained considerable traction since the beginning of President Obama’s second term.

“We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrations [sic]. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world,” wrote Zuckerberg in an op-ed posted on the Fwd.us website launched on Thursday.

Zuckerberg is not alone in this foray into the immigration debate. With the announcement of a lottery system by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to deal with the inundation of H-1B visa petitions at the beginning of this week, tech companies are now also drawn into the immigration brawl.

H-1B visas, which are used for higher-skilled workers from outside the country, are particularly relevant to tech companies who often rely on individuals with these skills coming from outside the United States. With the 65,000 cap for these visas surpassed within the first week of the filing period, the immigration discussion has no doubt piqued the interest of CEOs and founders.

Among the names listed under founders and supporters on the Fwd.us website includes Yahoo!’s CEO, President and Director Marissa Meyer, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Dropbox’s Vice President of Operations Ruchi Sanghvi.

Sanghvi’s personal story lends a more palpable testament to the difficulty encountered in the immigration system.

“I’ve had the privilege of being on both sides of the experience,” she says, alluding to her time as an applicant applying for different visas and ultimately her Green Card as well as an employer applying for work permits for potential employees.

The strategic hand behind the advocacy organization ultimately pushes for comprehensive immigration reform, which it has streamlined to five basic tenets: securing the borders, streamlining the process for admitting future workers, an employment verification program, a pathway to citizenship, and reforming the legal system.

As of now, the organization has offices in both Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. and there are pages on the website for volunteer opportunities revolving around a grassroots approach to reforming immigration. Further details are to be released.

“It’s an emotional journey,” Sanghvi says. “All of us has something unique to offer to the country. America has been a country of immigrants and I hope we can change immigration reform.”

To contact the author, e-mail: editor@americanbazaaronline.com

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