Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Facebook Founder Announces Pro-Immigration Lobby Group

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of facebook, has announced that he and other tech industry bosses have founded, a group which will lobby for reform of the US immigration and education systems. It has appointed advisors from both the Republican and the Democratic parties and will aim to be politically neutral. The group includes numerous well-known Silicon Valley figures including Marissa Meyer of Yahoo and Eric Schmidt of Google.

Mr Zuckerberg wrote an opinion piece which appeared in The Washington Post on Thursday April 11th 2013 in which he calls for
  • Comprehensive immigration reform 'allowing us to attract the most talented and hardest-working people no matter where they were born'
  • Better education for US students, particularly in technology, engineering and mathematics
  • Greater investment in scientific research for the public good.
Mr Zuckerberg says that the US is a land of immigrants. He is the great-grandchild of immigrants and a great example of the American story. He says 'My great-grandparents came through Ellis Island (the island where European immigrants arrived in New York). My grandfathers were a mailman and a police officer. My parents are doctors. I started a company.'

He continues 'None of this could have happened without a welcoming immigration policy'. He adds 'Today's students should have the same opportunities – but our current system blocks them. We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of migrants. And it's a policy unfit for today's world'.

US needs 'the most talented and hardest working people'


He says that it is especially important in today's world to retain the brightest immigrants in the US because 'today's economy is based primarily on knowledge and ideas – resources that are renewable and available to everyone….To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people'.Mr Zuckerberg asks, when ideas are so important,
  • 'Why do we kick out the more than 40% of math and science graduate students who are not US citizens after educating them?
  • 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?'

Tech industry wants to see everyone benefit from knowledge economy


Mr Zuckerberg says that the new organisation, will work with both political parties and the presidential administration to try to see its goals implemented. He says that it will use 'online and offline advocacy tools to build support for policy changes' and will aim to see 'all members of society gain from the rewards of the modern knowledge economy.

The US tech industry has long been campaigning for reform of the US immigration system. Since 2007, the sector has backed various bills which would have seen
  • More H-1B visas – Temporary work visas which allow foreign graduates to work in the US in a 'specialty occupation'.
  • L-1 visas – L-1 visas are intra company transfer visas that allow international companies to transfer staff from overseas branches to the US.
    • L-1A visas are for managers and
    • L-1B visas are for skilled workers with 'specialized knowledge' of the 'petitioning organization's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures'.
  • Employment-based permanent resident visas for graduates and entrepreneurs

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