Sen. Marco Rubio swung by Facebook’s Menlo Park campus on Wednesday to talk to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about America’s broken immigration system. The Republican senator is traveling through California to fund-raise for his re-election campaign as well as his political action committee, Reclaim America.
Zuckerberg, who has been making political headlines with his political advocacy group, FWD.us, has been lobbying members of Congress to push for comprehensive immigration reform. Earlier this month, Zuckerberg spoke publicly about immigration reform during a screening of Documented, a movie about undocumented immigrants.
At the event, the 29-year-old billionaire said he was compelled to push for immigration reform after volunteering with students at a Menlo Park school. He asked the class of middle-school students what they were most afraid of, and one student said he was scared that he would not be allowed to attend college in the United States because of his status as an undocumented immigrant.
“No matter where they were born, [these students] are going to be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and people creating jobs in this country,” he told the audience, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “These are issues that don’t just touch our part of the industry, but really touch a whole country.”
The Facebook CEO has previously worked with Republican establishment members to sell immigration reform to conservatives. In April, FWD.us and other Silicon Valley leaders funded a television ad by Americans for a Conservative Direction in support of the bipartisan immigration bill introduced by the Senate’s Gang of Eight. The ad said the bipartisan immigration plan was “the toughest enforcement measure in the history of the United States.”
The ad ran in six right-wing states with large Hispanic populations, including Florida, Sen. Rubio’s home state. In the ad, Rubio argued on behalf of the legislation, calling what the country has in place is “de-facto amnesty.”
When announcing the creation of his political advocacy group, Zuckerberg wrote a Washington Post op-ed, saying that technology leaders must band together to “advocate a bipartisan policy agenda to build the knowledge economy the United States needs to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment.” But at the film screening in San Francisco early August, Zuckerberg said that U.S. immigration policy extends far beyond foreign high-tech workers and an increase in H-1B visas.
The bill has passed through the Senate before the August recess but now faces a less optimistic future in the Republican-controlled House.