Zuckerberg group launches new push for immigration reform

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Technology advocacy groups are launching a new ad campaign to push House Republicans to take up immigration reform this year.

The two ads from FWD.us, which was founded by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, and an affiliate aimed at conservatives, called Americans for a Conservative Direction, will run on national cable television starting on Tuesday. They are being backed by a $250,000 buy and call on the public to prod lawmakers to move on the issue before it is too late.

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In one, from the conservative group, a narrator proposes that the country “do what many conservatives in Congress have suggested: finally secure our borders so this never happens again and create a system for those 11 million people here illegally to get right with the law.”

“No amnesty, but commonsense reforms that respect the rule of law,” the male voice adds, over infographics about immigration in the U.S. “Tell Congress it's time to fix our broken immigration system once and for all.”

The ad ends with the phone number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard.

The other ad, from FWD.us proper, features a woman who said she came to the U.S. when she was 9 years-old but never became a permanent citizen.

“When I found out that we were undocumented it was very shocking,” Dayana Torres says.

She tells the camera that she finished high school with a 3.9 grade point average and got five full-ride offers to college but was ineligible to attend because she was not in the country legally.

“This country means everything to me. All I’m asking for is a chance to give back,” she says. “I do not want a handout. I want an opportunity to show that I can earn my citizenship.”

The FWD.us ad more explicitly points the finger at “House Republicans,” urging viewers to call “and tell them the time for reform is now.”

Critics of the advocacy groups’ efforts say that the push is meant merely to bring in cheap labor for tech companies’ own uses, which would undercut salaries for American workers.

“Here’s one little fact omitted from these ads: the immigration bill includes a doubling of guest workers for IT companies to hire at lower wages than Americans,” said Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has been critical of congressional immigration legislation.

The House will not be taking up immigration reform this month, according to a memo Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) sent to lawmakers last week.

President Obama has called for action on immigration, but Republican lawmakers have been hesitant, saying they do not trust him to enforce measures he disagrees with.

This story was updated at 1:53 p.m.