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Facebook's Zuckerberg To Promote Immigration Reform With Hackathon, Other Events

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Credit: jdlasica-Foter-CC-BY-NC

Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us, a "pro-immigration conservative" lobbying group, is leading a multi-faceted campaign for comprehensive immigration reform.

The group is hosting a hackathon on November 20-21 at the Mountain View, Calif., headquarters of LinkedIn. FWD.us is specifically looking for "DREAMers," young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally, to participate in the event. The organization's website states that the immigrants will be broken up into teams, and "each team will create a project or application that could help supporters share stories, contact members of Congress or show family and friends why they want meaningful immigration reform." They will be mentored by Zuckerberg himself, as well as tech entrepreneurs like LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, Dropbox's Drew Houston, and Groupon's Andrew Mason.

The Silicon Beat explains, "Hackathons, of course, are a time-honored Silicon Valley strategy for tackling problems and finding solutions — or at least calling attention to an issue.  Facebook in particular has long celebrated the tradition of holding all-night coding sessions to resolve nagging problems or create new apps."

FWD.us is also co-sponsoring media campaigns and trips to Washington, D.C. A "diverse coalition" of business leaders and non-profit representatives will meet in Washington next week, according to The Hill's Jennifer Martinez, who details how it could be a boon for Republicans:

But some argue immigration reform could be a winning issue for House Republicans at a time when they need to repair their party's image.

"House Republicans need a win right now. They need to have something positive to say they're for," said a tech lobbyist. "They're trying to turn attention away from what's happened, and this could be one of those things." 

Tech representatives said they see encouraging signs in the House, where top Republicans are attempting to craft legislation that deals with the thorniest piece of the debate: how to deal with the millions of immigrants living in the country illegally. 

Zuckerberg explained in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this year that he started FWD.us because he believes the future of America's workforce lies in the cross-section of technology and young entrepreneurs.