Zuckerberg's FWD.us blankets country with immigration reform ad

The political advocacy group cofounded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is blanketing the country with a new pro-immigration reform ad that features an illegal immigrant who wants to serve in the military.

The ad will run on cable outlets, the Web and in 13 major TV broadcast markets across the country.


The spot from FWD.us features Alejandro Morales, who came to the United States illegally with his parents when he was seven months old and settled in Chicago. Morales served in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, or ROTC, in high school and earned the high ranking of Cadet Brigadier General during his senior year.

He cannot serve in the military, however, because of his immigration status. Morales is an example of what immigration reformers call a "Dreamer," or a young immigrant who moved to the U.S. illegally with their family as a child.

"I do want to give back. I believe 100 percent in what this country stands for," Morales says in the ad. "Let me earn it. Let me serve."

It's the first ad from the tech industry-backed FWD.us that focuses on the fight waged by "Dreamers" for immigration reform.

"We are running this ad to put a very human face on our broken immigration system," said FWD.us President Joe Green, who co-founded FWD.us with Zuckerberg, in a statement. "We hope that by showing Americans the cost of this broken system and the contributions people like Alejandro are already making, they will join with us in supporting real reform."

The ad will run in TV broadcast markets in border states and large cities, such as Phoenix; Tucson, Ariz.; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; Chicago; Albuquerque, N.M.; San Antonio, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The TV ad with Morales strikes a notably different tone from other ads backed by FWD.us. The political advocacy group was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when it funded ads that touted the conservative bona fides of senators that support immigration reform, including Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.), Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Alaska group backing independent candidate appears linked to Democrats Sullivan wins Alaska Senate GOP primary MORE (D-Alaska) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWisconsinites need infrastructure that is built to last  Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security MORE (R-Fla.). 

The ad for Graham lauded his support of the Keystone XL pipeline, while the ad for Begich highlighted his support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

The controversial ads prompted protests from environmentalists and progressive groups, who temporarily boycotted purchasing ads on Facebook. Elon Musk, CEO of electric carmaker Tesla, publicly quit FWD.us after the ads ran.

FWD.us, which has an A-list of tech donors, including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, has recently expanded its push for immigration reform beyond the tech industry's fight for more high-skilled visas and green cards for foreign graduates of American universities.

Earlier this week, FWD.us teamed up with journalist Jose Antonio Vargas's immigrant rights group Define American to cohost the premiere of "Documented," a film directed by Vargas that tells the stories of "Dreamers" like him who are fighting to gain U.S. citizenship.

Zuckerberg gave remarks at the film's premiere in San Francisco, which drew a crowd of tech executives, like Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Groupon founder Andrew Mason.

FWD.us also hosted a roundtable discussion on immigration reform this week with Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.).