Mark Zuckerberg. (Photo by Robert Scoble via Flickr.)
Mark Zuckerberg. (Photo by Robert Scoble via Flickr.)

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his position on immigration reform in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday, no one was surprised to hear that, like many Americans, Zuckerberg found the system flawed. But in the emotionally-charged issue of immigration, Zuckerberg’s perspective is colored by his place in the technology world.

Backed by a group of Silicon Valley’s biggest players, Zuckerberg’s new group,, aims to change what they consider flawed immigration policy and jumpstart a longer-reaching educational reform for the U.S. The group calls for tighter border security, a clear route to U.S. citizenship, and a shift toward math and science-focused education.

But immigration policy is a complex issue, and Zuckerberg and his teammates have been clear about their own motivations — the ability to drive the U.S. tech industry forward with a more diverse pool of talent.

“In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country,” Zuckerberg said in his op-ed for the Washington Post.

Specifically, Zuckerberg is concerned with the availability of H-1B visas, or lack thereof. Famously of short supply, the H-1B visa gives skilled immigrant workers the ability to join the U.S. workforce through an advanced work permit of sorts. With the amount of requested visas exceeding the fixed amount allotted each year, many foreign-born workers face the threat of having to leave the country after receiving advanced degrees in the U.S.

Other tech companies pushing for these types of reform include Microsoft, which has called for companies to pay higher fees for H-1B visas to raise the limits on immigration and better fund education in the U.S. for the long term.

As reported by NPR, this is not the first time Zuckerberg has engaged in political activism, but it might be his most outspoken. In many ways, his intent is just as driven by his technological sense as it is by his political — the reforms call for much more than a few policy changes.

Basically, his interests haven’t changed, they’ve just found a seed in immigration reform.

So why now? The Atlantic Wire reports there’s nothing new about what Zuckerberg’s suggesting, at least in terms of H-1B.

“Yes, Zuckerberg’s article does mention immigration reforms that don’t necessarily apply to H-1B visa recipients…” Atlantic Wire’s Philip Bump wrote of Zuckerberg’s article. However, Bump said Zuckerberg’s real motivation was likely rooted in ensuring the tech industry gets what it needs out of upcoming immigration reform.

For more on Zuckerberg’s initiative, see this site.

Alisa Reznick is a University of Washington student working as an editorial intern at GeekWire this quarter. Reach her at or on Twitter @AlisaReznick.

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  • Jake Leone

    In 2013, two-thirds of the H-1b visas applications (more than 80,000) have been submitted by Offshore Outsourcing companies.

    In 2012, more than half (more than 40,000) of the H-1b visas were used by Offshore Outsourcing companies.

    Any increase in the number of H-1b visas will be taken
    up by Offshore Outsourcing companies. These companies destroy jobs, and
    remove whole departments to overseas locations. How can we be so
    stupid as to allow this Job destroying government program to expand?

    The fact is our domestic Tech companies barely use the H-1b visa
    program. Why are our tech CEOs lobbying for an increase, they will
    never use?

    The Outsourcing companies can be stopped by putting the H-1b and Green Card process in the hands of the
    worker, from Day-1.

    We have let the whining of a few tech CEOs (who want protection from the
    real free labor market), create and expand a Monster job-destroying
    government program, that is mostly used by Offshore Outsourcing

  • asok14215

    His real motivation? He thinks the domestic rank and file are overpaid and are a drag on his company’s stock price.

  • panacheart

    Large bases of immigration workers help companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Google keep wages down. US workers have to compete with large numbers of H1-B Visa holders that are willing to work longer hours for less wages. Anyone that’s worked at any of these places knows this. From the trenches to the VP level, you’re always compared to those who will work more for less.

    These companies don’t need foreign workers because of a lack of talent here (with actual unemployment rates of 10% or more), they need them because they keep wages down.

  • twinsfan1100

    Ask the victims of Mark Zuckerburg’s Facebook IPO if we should trust Mark Zuckerburg. Less than twelve months after Mark Zuckerburg and Morgan Stanley masterminded the biggest “pump and dump” scam in American history, we are now asked to believe in yet another Mark Zuckerburg scam.

    There is no shortage of US STEM workers. There are 4.8 million US STEM jobs for which the US has graduated 15.7 million college grads in STEM disciplines to fill those positions. In other words there is less than one job for every three college grads in a US STEM discipline.

    If Mark Zuckerburg gets his wish, US STEM workers will join the long list of victims of Mark Zuckerburg’s past, current, and future SCAMS!

  • 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 and 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.

  • Real

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