New York: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley leaders have formally launched a political group aimed at revamping immigration policy, boosting education and encouraging investment in scientific research. Zuckerberg announced the formation of Fwd.us (pronounced "forward us") in an op-ed article in 'The Washington Post' late Wednesday night. In it, he said the US needs a new approach to these issues if it is to get ahead economically. This includes offering a path to citizenship for the 11 million or so immigrants who now live in the US illegally.
"We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants," Zuckerberg wrote. "And it's a policy unfit for today's world." Zuckerberg, whose great-grandparents were immigrants, said he wants "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".
The move comes at an opportune time. Zuckerberg's goals echo a sweeping immigration bill that a bipartisan Senate group is expected to roll out in the coming days. Companies such as Microsoft and Google, along with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have been pushing to make it easier for highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs to work in the US. Although Fwd.us supports increasing the number of visas available to these workers, its goals are broader.
Zuckerberg also called for higher standards and accountability in schools and increased focus on learning about science, technology, engineering and math. Today's knowledge and ideas-based economy, the 28-year-old Harvard dropout wrote, is very different from the economy of the 20th century that was based on natural resources, industrial machines and labor. Fwd.us, he said, was created to "to build the knowledge economy the United States needs to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment."
Also backing the group are tech leaders such as LinkedIn Corp CEO Reid Hoffman and venture capitalists John Doerr and Jim Breyer, as well as Ruchi Sanghvi of Dropbox, who was Facebook Inc's first female engineer. Joe Green, founder of Causes.com, a social network for community organising, serves as the group's president and founder. Major financial contributors include Google Inc Chairman Eric Schmidt, Netflix Inc CEO Reed Hastings, Yahoo Inc CEO Marissa Mayer, SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, Zynga Inc. CEO Mark Pincus and former Groupon Inc CEO Andrew Mason.
Fwd.us declined to disclose how much money Zuckerberg and other supporters have contributed to the group. In 2012, Zuckerberg donated 18 million Facebook shares, worth close to $500 million at the time, to a Silicon Valley charity with the aim of funding health and education issues. And he pledged $100 million in Facebook stock to Newark, NJ, public schools in 2010, before his company went public in May 2012.
Zuckerberg is not the only high-ranking Facebook executive to use his role to advance social causes. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg launched LeanIn.org, a nonprofit aimed at arming women with the tools and guidance they need to keep moving forward in the workforce.