Facebook CEO joins immigration debate

The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has thrown his weight firmly behind America’s proposed immigration reform, but denies the reform is simply a “self-interested hunt for cheap foreign tech workers.”

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Zuckerberg spoke out on the immigration issue publicly for the first time last night at a San Francisco screening of a documentary about journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. Vargas made national headlines two years ago by admitting he was one of America’s roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants. Under the new proposals Vargas would be presented with an eventual path to US citizenship.

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“This is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country – and for us to do what’s right,” the Facebook head told a crowd of roughly 600 people at  Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts.

He also said that he believed sorting out the status of undocumented immigrants – especially those who are currently studying in the country – was more important that looking to hire skilled technology workers from abroad. “No matter where they were born, [these undocumented students] are going to be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and people creating jobs in this country,” he said. “These are issues that don’t just touch our part of the industry, but really touch a whole country.”

Immigration reform that would offer undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, and simplify the legal immigration programme at the same time, was passed by the US Senate in June. However, its chances of passing the House of Representatives are not thought to be high, due to the Republican-controlled House’s dislike of the path being offered to undocumented immigrants.