San Francisco, CA- Facebook CEO has been quietly working behind the scenes to push for immigration reform for several months, but hasn’t spoken publicly about his support until now. And now he is joining the chorus of activists who are turning up the heat on Congress while they are out for recess.
Speaking to a crowd of politicians, immigration activists and tech leaders Zuckerberg said that immigration reform is important to all Americans not just those in the tech sector.
“This is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country – and for us to do what’s right,” Zuckerberg said.
The invitation-only event was hosted by Fdw.us., an organization Zuckerberg founded with his former Harvard roommate Joe Green, and an immigration rights group Define America, founded by Jose Vargas, an renowned journalist who admitted two years ago that he was undocumented.
Zuckerberg said he became aware of the importance of immigration reform when he volunteered to speak at an event about entrepreneurship at Menlo Park School.
He told the attendees that he asked the students what they “worried about most” and said he was “touched” when one boy said, “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to go to college because I’m undocumented,” the San Francisco Gate reported.
That comment, Zuckerberg said, was the impetus for him to get behind immigration reform. He realized the students in that class weren’t going to be given the same opportunities as American-born students and began to take action.
“No matter where they were born, (these students) are going to be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and people creating jobs in this country,” Zuckerberg said. “These are issues that don’t just touch our part of the industry, but really touch a whole country.”
Some believe this is a move in the right direction for Zuckerberg who has been criticized for not having a social conscious and only approving of immigration reform for selfish purposes especially since the tech industry relies heavily on immigrants.
Immigration reform is the first political issue Zuckerberg has been vocal about though he contributed to both the Republican and Democratic parties during the last election. He said in closing his speech that “you will win people over in their hearts. Buying politicians is the wrong way to do it.”
Zuckerberg is among the many people pushing Congress, the House specifically, to pass immigration reform. Activist all over the country are holding rallies and staged a symbolic protest last week as House members were leaving D.C. for their five week summer recess without making any progress on immigration reform.
Activist vowed they would not be taking recess and has plans to continue protests throughout the country. The event that Zuckerberg spoke at was among the many events planned over the next five weeks.
Though activists, a number of politicians and business leaders have been working on passing immigration reform, members of the House have been dragging their feet working on a set of smaller bills but have yet to yield any tangible results which would indicate they take the issue as seriously as others.