Manu Fernandez, Associated Press
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken up the cause of "humane immigration reform," calling it “one of the biggest civil rights issues of our time" in a Fox News interview.
Zuckerberg first became interested in immigration reform while teaching in an after-school program in entrepreneurship, according to Forbes, when he asked his students where they plan to go to college.
One student surprised him by saying that he doesn't know if he will go to college at all: "That student is going to be the entrepreneur of tomorrow," Zuckerberg said in the report.
The young philanthropist, 29, has formed FWD.us, an immigration reform organization backed by the likes of Bill Gates that supports reform for undocumented students, or "Dreamers," but also advocates for changes that allow companies to hire highly skilled workers.
The organization has come under criticism for trying to allow tech giants to hire talented immigrant labor and pay them less than American workers. Zuckerberg denies that claim according to Forbes, saying that his organization is taking a bipartisan approach, and helping the country transition to a "knowledge economy."
In a knowledge economy, Zuckerberg said, a "person knowing something doesn't prevent another person from knowing it too." he also said that Facebook feeds the knowledge economy by "keeping people connected."
Zuckerberg may be the one person who can lead immigration change, argues Forbes contributor Ralph Benko, because social networking gives people transparency into others' lives.
“Once people get to know each other as human beings rather than as impersonal symbols representing diverse philosophies and organizations, then a new set of relationships composed of genuine understanding and real sympathy will arise," said Benko.
Zuckerberg said that he thinks overall, the government works and isn't a "broken-down system" like cynics say, he said in a press event, but he was clear about changes that he would like to see in immigration.
“Eleven million people is a lot of people who are being treated unfairly right now,” he said.
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