Why Mark Zuckerberg Is Pushing for Immigration Reform

  • Share
  • Read Later
Robert Galbraith / REUTERS

America has always been a nation of immigrants, but today, there is general agreement that the U.S. immigration system is broken. The southern border remains porous, 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living in the shadows, and tens of thousands of the most promising immigrants are forced to leave the country thanks to outdated visa rules.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.

“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. Several top venture capitalists are also participating. “To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We need to train and attract the best.”

(MORE: Vivek Wadhwa: Stop the U.S. Highly-Skilled ‘Immigrant Exodus’ Now)

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. “Expanding the supply of immigration visas for high-skilled workers increases patenting activity in science and engineering, particularly in U.S. high-tech firms.”

But thanks to outdated visa rules, tens of thousands of skilled immigrants are forced to return home — after being educated in the U.S. — because the government does not issue enough H-1B visas. This has led to what author Vivek Wadhwa has called America’s “immigrant exodus.” This “reverse brain drain” of talent is having real consequences. The proportion of immigrant-founded companies nationwide has slipped from 25.3% to 24.3% since 2005, and in Silicon Valley, the percentage of immigrant-founded start-ups declined from 52.4% to 43.9% during that time, according to a recent study co-authored by Wadhwa and the Kaufman Foundation.

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. A recent study by the consulting firm McKinsey found that 45% of U.S. employers surveyed say that a “skills shortage” is a leading reason for entry-level vacancies. In a widely discussed 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Marc Andreessen, arguably Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalist, wrote that “every company I work with is absolutely starved for talent.”

(MORE: The Economics of Immigration: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why)

Others have called such claims exaggerated, and suggested these jobs could go to American-born tech workers. These critics say the H-1B program allows U.S. companies to train foreign workers and then “outsource” them abroad at lower wages, thus hurting U.S. workers. And some tech experts say that the immigration debate “has to start with the education and re-education of the American workforce.”

In any event, this has become a major issue for Silicon Valley. “Why do we kick out the more than 40% of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them?” Zuckerberg asked. “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?”

The answer, according to Wadhwa, is that the toxic state of U.S. politics and the rancorous debate over illegal immigration have made immigration reform all but impossible in recent years. “Both the Democrats and the Republicans agree that we want the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers,” Wadhwa told me last fall. “Everyone agrees that we want these people to stay. But there’s a stalemate on the issue of amnesty for illegal workers.”

(MORE: After Austin: Five Reasons You’ll Want Google Fiber in Your City)

There are signs in Washington, D.C., that a grand bargain on immigration reform may be on the horizon, and Zuckerberg and his allies clearly want to influence its contours. FWD.us is calling for 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 group is also calling for higher standards in schools, a “much greater focus” on science, technology, engineering and math, and more investment in scientific research.

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.”

361 comments
Rama
Rama

I think US Future is Uncertain due to the current Constitutional Immigration Crisis, if you don't keep the highly educated, hardworking engineers who migrated from India, China ...N countries for decades and who created millions of jobs locally and also globally, I'm sure they all will leave (Brain Drain) to there native countries to create opportunities.


In the long term vision for USA , I think it's good idea to train your own USA Born Kids locally with STEM skills, but most of your kids and children, are dropping out of school (As per the School Records and Reports) as it is not that easy to get quality skills in, 'Mathematics, Science, Engineering, Technology and Innovation' and Compete with growing economies (Ex : India, China, Russia...N) in the world.   I.T.,  is a consistent education and learning process, one has to learn the skills and new concepts on a daily basis to stay competitive in this current markets locally and also globally. Just my own thoughts and opinions.

JoshGilman
JoshGilman

Zuckerberg, Gates et al - can stop sticking it to American middle class IT workers....we all see what's going on here.  First, it was the factories...now it's the IT workers.  The shortage is a myth and regardless, why don't we reform EDUCATION so that more American kids are STEM degree holders instead of moving mountains to import foreigners???  The American middle class always gets the shaft in every new policy these jokers dream up and it's about time people wake up to it.

SimoneGemma
SimoneGemma

How much money did Zuckerberg pay Obama for this nonsensical amnesty for invaders and lawlessness of criminal POS?

CthulhuRising
CthulhuRising

Instead off Zuckerberg advocating immigration reform so giant tech companies can get science graduates from other countries on a temporary visa, why not advocate for educational reform here in the U.S.? Start teaching logic and mathematics as soon as is feasible, stop teaching kids by forcing them to memorize random facts for standardized tests and teach them actual concepts. This alone will increase the quality of education in the U.S..

Rama
Rama

I think you need to pay Million Dollars /Hr to Pay 'Mark Zuckerberg' to Coach your kids and children with STEM Skills. I think that's your job to teach and coach your own kids with STEM Skills. 

EconomyInCrisis
EconomyInCrisis

With thousands of U.S. citizens either unemployed or greatly underemployed, it can be difficult to believe that many U.S. jobs are going to foreign workers with special visas:

  • J-1
  • L-1
  • H-1B

These three visa programs are disastrous job-stealing schemes that are only fueling unemployment and underemployment in the United States. In order to reinvigorate our job markets and economy, these visa programs must end.

The J-1 visa program was designed and officially intended to promote educational and cultural exchange. Examples of two U.S. corporations that are utilizing the J-1 visa program are McDonald’s and Hershey.Unlike the H1-B and L-1 visa programs that will be discussed shortly, the J-1 visa program primarily targets manufacturing jobs. Essentially, the program replaces well-paid union workers with temporary foreign guest labor.The H1-B and L-1 visa programs are a bit different than the J-1 program. Instead of in-sourcing workers to the United States, the H1-B and L-1 programs tend to outsource jobs. For example, trade with India is currently resulting in the loss and outsourcing of high-paying, professional services jobs. As J.R. Martin eloquently points out in his book, Selling U.S. Out, “at the center of India’s national economic strategy is the development of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries by primarily targeting U.S. corporations and government entities, effectively replacing their American workforce with lower-cost Indian workers.”

Countries such as India are employing the use of L-1 and H-1B visas. J.R. Martin explains these two programs as such: “these visas are the golden tickets to America for low-cost foreign workers and they are easily obtained by U.S. and foreign-owned corporations from the U.S. government. They are used as tools to replace millions of American workers with low cost foreign workers.” Unfortunately, these visas are fueling the outsourcing of our valuable businesses and assets to India.

With U.S. unemployment numbers as high as they are, the government needs to stop issuing the J-1, L-1 and H-1B visas that are taking good paying jobs away from hardworking United States citizens.

mmcarlone
mmcarlone

If the proportion of immigrant-founded companies nationwide has slipped from 25.3% to 24.3% since 2005, that equals non-immigrant-founded companies increasing by 1% from 74.7% to 75.7% during that time.  The vast majority of new companies in the nation, 75.7%, are not founded by immigrants.  For each 1% population growth of non-immigrants, you get .76% more companies founded, for 1% immigration growth, only .24% growth in companies founded, a decrease of  32%.  That's a little trick I call math.

Elber
Elber

I have been working here for 2 years as a consultant, for a while I have wanted to start a business, but it is impossible for me until I get my greencard, which if I am lucky, will only take around 9 more years..

RaeIJ
RaeIJ

Stop whining/complaining and contact your Senator!

They are not reading this board, and about to pass the bill.


Again please stop whining here and contact your senator whichever way is available: through their twitter, facebook (the irony), email, and phone.

Please like this message to get this to the top of the comments.

twins.fan
twins.fan

Less than twelve months after Mark Zuckerburg and Morgan Stanley masterminded the biggest "pump and dump" scam in US history, Mark Zuckerburg is here again with another scam.  Just ask the victims of the Facebook IPO if Mark Zuckerburg should be trusted!  Mark Zuckerburg is a con artist and if he has his way, millions of US STEM workers will be added to the long list of victims of Mark Zuckerburg's past, current and future FRAUDS!


There is NO shortage of US STEM workers.  There are around 4.8 million STEM jobs in the country and 15.7 million graduates of US colleges and universities in STEM related disciplines to fill those jobs. Yes there is less than one job for ever three college grads in STEM related disciplines.


The H-1B visa is one of many work visas that the White House and Congress has granted multinational corporations that those multinational corporations are using to reduce labor costs by replacing US STEM workers with workers from low cost labor centers, primarily India and Communist China.

Rama
Rama

The simple reason they are doing is to, 'exploit the cost effective (Mind your tongue ; Read the history of Bharat (India) We were golden age, destroyed by foreign civilizations!) labor coming from India. If Indians hasn't done         the 'Technology Innovation',  USA would have been 3 rd world two decades ago. We came like you came for 'opportunities', and created millions in USA and voted for liberal democrats. See how they treated us for our hardwork, rewarding the 'illegals' first than the 'legal ones'.

SkipConrad
SkipConrad

Reform the H1-B program to require a PhD. Also, ban the use of H1-B visas by Indian outsourcing firms. Cleanup the abuse. If you can do that, we can get away with issuing fewer visas.

shadowshooter
shadowshooter

Hello,


I'm a student who just graduated a month ago from nation's one of the best universities with an advanced degree. If you asked me how I would feel about this few years ago, I'd be happy to guide you with tears of joy. So my story... A story of where tears lead my way.


Now I am holding an advanced degree in my hands in USA and already scored a job in nation's one of most prominent companies, however now tears that I shed every night and day are not because of joy. These are the tears of unspeakable and these are the tears of regret, fear and more. 


I started this journey 3 years ago when I decided to take my toll to be in world's one of the best universities. After months into this decision, my air ticket read a destination in the USA. With much success in the back and ahead, I jumped over the plane from Europe to bring my expertise and gain more. Happy years went over and I finally got my job offer. However, I would never know the same country I felt so happy to go years ago would leave me alone on my way afterwards. I am one of those thousands of people who had a great education in a US system but left to his destiny without any support to continue their journey. As if my whole life and success was a result of a lottery, I've been recklessly put into a worker's visa lottery to decide what my future awaits ahead of me. Without knowing the result, I've now been left alone in my room, four walls to look at, to wait for my toll. Tears, misery, and whys neither help nor explain what I am going through now. Being prevented from success, being exempted from advancing for the better never happened to me before.


Unless someone somewhere finally pulls the strings, I will have to say goodbye to where I achieved much success, this very country. Since my fate is executed with a simple lottery, my all hard work does not mean much in the eyes of relentless poll system that will decide to give me a worker's visa or not.


So I would like to address all of people who believe in a fair system. Same minds who did everything in their hand to attract me to this country... Where are you now? Why am I alone in this? Why do I have to face all of this? What was all hard work for?


Please act quickly and do not undertake the immerse responsibility of sending success away under your shoulders. Those who worked so hard to be sitting in your government chairs should not be watching this cruelty take place anymore.


Please act now and act quickly. Otherwise it will be my and others' death toll next.


Please end this cruelty. All my american friends, families who endeared me and who have been with me and the likes of them, my voice is for you. Please do show your support. I am the same of your ancestors who came to these lands with their success and ambitions. This where home is, this is where I went through and bad and became one proud person of this nation. I understand you and your pain with unemployment but my hope is your and with your as mine I would do everything in my hand and expertise to open up new areas where people can work.


With so much hope and love,

Thanks.

TracytbBrittain
TracytbBrittain

@destor23 

That's all this is from Zuckerberg a way to get more of India's workforce to do their work cheap. Just like when you call these customer service lines. They can hardly speak a speck of English. You have to get a interpreter on the phone to decipher what they're talking about. And if they're talking about Mexicans which they are not. Their are enough of them here not doing nothing yet, providing services getting low wages already. So who is Zuckerberg really wanting to help. Obama's offer of tax breaks for those they hire here in America. It's enough unemployed American's to fill up the entire Facebook scheme. 

PostPublicly
PostPublicly

Fwd.us is going to start off yet another unnecessary debate - this time about immigration. This is going to be as much of a distraction and time sink as Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ and Facebook itself. They just keep distracting me, the public, from the actual, glaring priorities. In my opinion, Sandberg should have focused on working parents and their issues (not women), while Zuckerberg should be concentrating on improving children’s education (including STEM) from the ground up (not immigration), WITHIN the U.S...      Until they learn to keep their ear on the ground and focus on the right issues, they will continue to come across as 'out of touch', and their advice and causes, outdated, impractical and irrelevant.

SaiAbhyankar
SaiAbhyankar

If Marky Z and his H1b loving buddies are really concerned about immigration, then why aren't they pushing for green cards and citizenship ?  Why do more than 1/2 of H1b's go to indian outsourcing firms ?  Why is that almost every day there's a new case of fraud involving H1B/L1/B1 replacement worker visas ? How come companies don't address the argument that perhaps they need to pay regular wages to attract talent, rather than desperate attempts to import in serf H1b workers that can't negotiate for better money and working conditions ? You won't hear answers to any of that, what you'll see and hear are b/s "friendly" sounding propaganda pieces and deceptive marketing on sites called "fwd.us" and pro-"immigration" sites. What companies really want, are indentured H1b workers - and as many as they can get. They want to operate in the U.S., paid for with YOUR ever-increasing taxes - but to import in desperate and cheap workers that can be marked up at huge profits to client companies; in short, privatize the profits from H1b while passing on the true economic costs to you and me...that's it, period.  These companies don't care about immigration, they care about short-term profits and if it ends up destroying our economy and profession, no problem, just move on to the next unsuspecting country. Don't believe the lies about a lack of skilled talent in the U.S, the vast, vast, vast majority of H1b's are low/no-skilled and any college graduate could do their job ( I see it day in and day out ). And as for the U.S. being a "land of immigrants", every country is a land of immigrants, and no matter what that is no license for anyone to come and take what you've worked hard for, because they don't want to change things in their own sovereign country. End H1b now, stop the wage-depressing job robbing - stop the madness !!!

jimparks305
jimparks305

@SaiAbhyankarI agree, but you could probably even replace "any college graduate could do their job" with "any high school graduate could do their job".  

 I've never believed that a university education is required to write Java code.

nubwaxer
nubwaxer

he wants to undercut wages on the low and high scale of wages by importing workers while the right wing wails about 12 million low skill immigrants.  i smell a rat.

SmoothEdward1
SmoothEdward1

These tech guys are just looking for cheaper labor. They can pay engineers, and coding people less, than their American counterparts. Here's a few thoughts for you: Sponsor American students in science programs, set up endowments for educating the talent you need. Stop hiding your money offshore from taxes so America's schools have the funds to educate. Stop your policy of supporting taxing policies that redistribute wealth up the chain so the middle-class parents can send their kids to college for these science and engineering degrees. They're all so full of crap and self-serving.

AlvaroSevilla
AlvaroSevilla

Humans are migrant, is migratory, enjoys traveling as good mammal is. He likes to move, is part of what made ​​humans the dominant species and destroying the environment. Immigration reform in the USA, has to be a combination of law, fostering understanding and who already live here. Allow the legalization of the immigration give the right to collect more taxes, do not forget, to pay the debt. The act of promoting immigration reform is to hire legally or legalize workers with intellectual capacity, this is part of being elitist.

zaglossus
zaglossus

I don't pay attention to what rich people say about stuff like this - they generally support an open borders policy of the global economy that makes them richer while it makes the lives of some of their countrymen (who they don't care about since they regard themselves as globetrotting citizens of the world) more miserable and generally drives down the labor costs of their corporations.

zaglossus
zaglossus

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are good at writing computer code. When it comes to social issues, there opinion means nothing other than the financial clout they can bring to support their side. And remember the policies that the rich endorse often don't affect them though these policies may adversely affect the American middle and poor classes.

PerturbedPundit
PerturbedPundit

The latest Government Accountability Office report on the H-1B visa discusses at some length the fact that the vast majority of H-1B workers are hired into entry level positions. In fact, most are at Level I, officially defined by the Dept. of Labor as those who have a “basic understanding of duties and perform routine tasks requiring limited judgment.” This belies the industry lobbyists’ claims that H-1Bs are hired because they are experts that can’t be found among the U.S. workforce. Corporations want cheap labor – it’s really as simple as that.

And I think it's very amusing that the author references Vivek Wadhwa thinking that it would help his argument.  This is the same Vivek Wadhwa who was quoted in a CIO magazine article as saying, "I was one of the first [CEOs] to use H-1B visas to bring workers to the U.S.A.. Why did I do that? Because it was cheaper." (CIO Magazine, Wed, October 31, 2007, "The Next Wave of Globalization: Offshoring R&D to India and China", by Stephanie Overby)

Oh - and lobbyists suck big-time.  The US is NOT a democracy.

PUDDYFUDGE
PUDDYFUDGE

These guys just want cheap labor. These companies just don't want to PAY Americans. 80% of the open jobs in the USA could be filled next week, but corporate America wants cheap labor.

JaniceMiller
JaniceMiller

I totally agree. Immigrants that could contribute more than many natives growth are stunt. Not all illegals are here to just take, they want to take out of what they provide.

BobRock
BobRock

I just don't understand why everybody talking about Mexicans? There are lot of immigrants not only from Mexico. They are all over the world. And all of them are searching for new life in America - just like all of those "amnesty-hater" relatives who were come in to America more than 100 years ago. 
Who gave you right to live here? Indians? I don't think so. America is open, friendly country and everybody has right to try to live here. No one is asking anything else than identification document and legal right to live, work, study and grow in America. And, most important - to pay tax! America need money-support and fresh work-power. Let them work and pay tax. So simple is this. If they don't work they will leave America faster then they come in. If they work (and 99% of them already working) allow them to pay tax. Current situation is not good for America. Illegals are working and not paying tax - who has benefit? Neither immigrants then America.
Just do the math... approximately there are 11 million of immigrants - if they have to pay only 10 $ for legal fees ...ha? All dough I don't think that legal fee for amnesty is going to be less than couple thousands of dollars... Math is very clear.
Following are the new working places...what do you think how many people should work on this issue? America doesn't have those workers. They have to be employed...and all of them are going to pay tax!
There is to assume that America is going to get around 10.000 USD per one amnestied illegal immigrant - directly (legal fees) or indirectly (tax, cars, apartments, furniture, food, school...) in the first year after legalization!!! 11.000.000 x 10.000 $ = 110.000.000.000 $ (one hundred ten BILLION US$)!!!
To make a long story short - don't be silly - it is all about money!!! And America need it desperately! No one likes immigrants (?) but all of as have nothing against their money. GOD BLESS AMERICA         

jrenee39214
jrenee39214

I am all for immigration reform if done correctly. However, how about we invest some of this money into the american educational system and inspire interest in the sciences so that citizens can fill the gaps in the technological sector instead of us having to reach out to immigrants to fill gaps in our workforce.  That just seems like common sense...

truthbetold727272
truthbetold727272

these illigal immigrants want AMERICA to be the P-SSY MEXICO F-CKS and then they get upset were not nice about it.

truthbetold727272
truthbetold727272

youll see all the post for immigration by incognito illegal immigrants pretending to be american.

destor23
destor23

I'm all for people being able to move here if they want to, but there is not a shortage of people who can work on Silicon Valley.  Plenty of Americans have the skill, Zuckerberg, et al. just don't like the price they're demanding.

truthbetold727272
truthbetold727272

If these mexicans are so great why aren't they bringing all this greatness to that sh-tty country mexico, instead what there really doing is bringing mexico sh-ttyness here. 

MikeJones
MikeJones

Every comment in every article is AGAINST AMNESTY..

truthbetold727272
truthbetold727272

Its getting hard to know who to vote for but by the sounds of a lot of people are against illegal immigrants

MikeJones
MikeJones

It is plain and simple TREASON against AMERICANS..they are TRAITORS...vote them OUT in 2014 if they support this crap......

MikeJones
MikeJones

We need to get control of these congress dudes....VOTE these TRAITORS OUT!

MikeJones
MikeJones

MITT actually had a Genius Idea......SELF DEPORTAION!!!!!! How Perfect if they ALL started heading for the border Pronto!!!!

truthbetold727272
truthbetold727272

If we can get through this next term without the dream act passing we have a chance GOD BLESS AMERICA

MikeJones
MikeJones

We are being Destroyed by these Senators....

MikeJones
MikeJones

These puppets for the RICH should TRASH this idea and get to WORK on things for AMERICANS....we are 16 Trillion in Debt......our children have NO FUTURE.....we NEED 11 million INVADERS???

MikeJones
MikeJones

We are 16 trillion in debt...onthe verge of financial COLLAPSE....this program would COST a Fortune to monitor the clown aliens. They say they will have to BUILD entire Departments to monitor all that is necessary....THEN these kooks will be WELCOME to OUR jobs......wow! just what I want!.....what a Bargain!

truthbetold727272
truthbetold727272

who does obama work for the mexicans or the americans im confused.