Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to sell immigration reform to conservatives, and he’s enlisted members of the GOP establishment to do it.
Americans for a Conservative Direction (ACD), a group led by former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, former Jeb Bush chief of staff Sally Bradshaw and former George W. Bush spokesman Dan Senor, is running a television ad in support of the bipartisan immigration bill introduced last week by the Senate’s Gang of Eight that sells the plan as “the toughest enforcement measure in the history of the United States.” The ad, set to run in six states and funded by a group founded by Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley magnates, is part of a broader campaign to make it easier to hire foreign technology sector workers.
The new ad began running Tuesday in Florida, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, Iowa, and Kentucky—states that lean rightward, many of which have large latino populations. In it, Republican Senator Marco Rubio makes the case for the legislation by railing against current policy, calling it “de-facto amnesty.”
Despite opposition from hardline conservatives like Texas Senator Ted Cruz, there have been efforts within the party to find common ground on immigration as a way to woo Latino voters. ACD adviser Sally Bradshaw co-chaired the RNC “autopsy” that recommended redoubled outreach efforts in the wake of GOP electoral defeats in 2012.
Zuckerberg announced the creation of FWD.us in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, saying that he and other leaders of the tech community would work to “advocate a bipartisan policy agenda to build the knowledge economy the United States needs to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment.” Silicon Valley is heavily dependent upon foreign labor, and business leaders have long advocated for an increase in the number of H-1B visas, which allow companies to hire workers with “highly specialized” skills to fill jobs in the U.S.
The push will not just target Republicans; FWD.us has also founded the group Council for American Job Growth, which Politico reports will sell reform to progressive and independent voters.