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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

World

Obama govt's immigration policy unfit for today’s world: Zuckerberg
Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times
Washington, April 12, 2013
First Published: 23:05 IST(12/4/2013)
Last Updated: 10:51 IST(13/4/2013)
US President Barack Obama talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before a dinner with Technology Business Leaders in Woodside, California.

Ruchi Sanghvi came to the US in 2000 to study. She stayed on, transitioning from one visa to another to a Green card. She is backing a new push on immigration reforms.

It matters. One, because Sanghvi is a senior executive at Dropbox, a file management servicer. Two, this push is coming from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg on Thursday launched FWD.us, a political action group, to influence policy on education, immigration reforms and spending on scientific research.

FWD.us is Forward US, a not too-subtle nod to President Barack Obama’s re-election slogan “Forward”. Facebook has many ties to this White House.

“We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants,” Zuckerberg wrote in The Washington Post. “And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.”

The Facebook co-founder makes the point that his great-grandfathers came to this country as immigrants. And he went to start a company which, he omitted to add, is super successful.

None of this would have been possible but for a welcoming immigration policy, a great education system and the world’s leading scientific community. FWD.us will be pushing on all those fronts.

This is not simply a good cause. Immigration counts for a lot in Silicon Valley, which is driven by immigrants, who also account for 40% of all start-ups.

FWD.us is backed by everyone who matters in Silicon Valley: Google’s Eric Schmidt, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman and Zynga’s Mark Pincus.

And Sanghvi of Dropbox.

She and Facebook go a long way back. She was the company’s first female engineer. And it is her story that welcomes a guest to FWD.us.

Zuckerberg’s push comes at a time when the US congress is putting together a comprehensive immigration reform legislation with bipartisan support. And is, thus, very timely.

Sanghvi, who is from Pune, was lucky to have landed a Green Card. “My own sister was rejected and had to leave the US after being educated here,” she writes on Facebook.

Therefore, the US needs to change. It can no longer afford to lose talent, and the edge it has had over the rest of the world, because of a faulty immigration system.

But not every one believes Zuckerberg is serious.

“It seems to me more like an attempt to get positive publicity for himself as a leader,” said Vivek Wadhwa, entrepreneur-turned-academic, who has long argued for smarter immigration laws.

“I remain skeptical — and want to be proven wrong.”


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