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Facebook CEO launches political group

Fwd.us will lobby on immigration, education reform and scientific research to drive US knowledge economy

Facebook CEO launches political group
Zuckerberg: "We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has launched a new political group to campaign for reforms in the US to drive the technology industry.

The Fwd.us group (‘forward us’) is calling primarily for immigration reform to allow US companies to hire the best technical staff, along with more focus on scientific research and better science, technology and maths education in schools.

Fwd.us founders include representatives of many web and Silicon Valley based companies, while financial contributors include Google’s Eric Schmidt, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo!, SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus and former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason.

The group says it will campaign at state and district level in the US, as well as using online social organising to build a movement in the tech community.

One of the key reforms the group is seeking is in making it easier for skilled foreign workers and students to be able to gain US citizenship, allowing US-based companies to benefit from their expertise in driving a knowledge economy. The US currently has a limited allocation of H1B visas to allow skilled foreign workers to take up jobs in the US, which has often been criticised by some in the tech industry as limiting their ability to hire the best staff. More than 40% of maths and science graduate students who are educated in the but are not US citizens also leave the country on graduation.

Zuckerberg, whose great-grandparents were immigrants to the US, said in a blog post: “We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrations. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.

“Today’s economy is… primarily based on knowledge and ideas -- resources that are renewable and available to everyone. Unlike oil fields, someone else knowing something doesn’t prevent you from knowing it too. In fact, the more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be.

“This can change everything. In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country. A knowledge economy can scale further, create better jobs and provide a higher quality of living for everyone in our nation.

“To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people. We need to train and attract the best.”

Fwd.us sets out principles as “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; education reforms that produce more graduates in the science, technology and math fields and ensure all children receive a high quality education from effective teachers and accountable schools; and support for scientific research, which seeds the future innovation of our knowledge economy, and breakthrough developments.”

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