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Mark Zuckerberg starts lobby, says U.S. immigration policy 'unfit'

April 12, 2013 at 2:30 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- U.S. immigration policy is "unfit for today's world," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in starting an advocacy group that seeks to change the U.S. economy.

"We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it's a policy unfit for today's world," he said in a Washington Post op-ed announcing Fwd.us, a bipartisan political advocacy group also supported by more than two dozen prominent technology leaders, including Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer.

"My grandfathers were a mailman and a police officer," Zuckerberg wrote. "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.

"Today's students should have the same opportunities," he said.

Fwd.us -- pronounced "Forward U.S." -- is run by former Zuckerberg Harvard University roommate Joe Green and will have offices in California's Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. The Washington office will be led by campaign manager Rob Jesmer, a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The technology leaders started Fwd.us -- which had more than 17,000 Facebook "Likes" early Friday and more than 2,300 Twitter followers -- because the United States has shifted to a "knowledge economy" based on ideas from an economy "primarily based on natural resources, industrial machines and manual labor," Zuckerberg, 28, said in his commentary.

Unlike 20th century resources, knowledge and ideas "are renewable and available to everyone."

In this new economy, "we need the most talented and hardest-working people. We need to train and attract the best," he said.

Fwd.us has three immediate priorities, he said: comprehensive immigration reform that provides a clear path to citizenship; education reform to press for higher standards in schools and a "much greater focus" on math and sciences; and increased investment to create "breakthrough discoveries in scientific research and assurance that the benefits of the inventions belong to the public and not just to the few."

"We will work with members of Congress from both parties, the administration and state and local officials," Zuckerberg said. "We will use online and offline advocacy tools to build support for policy changes, and we will strongly support those willing to take the tough stands necessary to promote these policies in Washington."

Fwd.us has raised $25 million and seeks to double that amount, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Its consultants and lobbyists on both sides of the political aisle are also expected to press other agenda items of the technology industry, the newspaper said.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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