Zuckerberg group woos conservatives on immigration

Mark Zuckerberg’s newly formed political advocacy group isn’t wasting time in plunging into the immigration debate, with a new effort that suggests the group won’t be shy about playing modern politics with the big boys and girls.

FWD.us, which was launched earlier this month by Zuckerberg and other Internet industry leaders, has created separate subsidiaries to court conservative and liberal support for immigration reform, according to a new report in Politico.  As a first step, the techies are funding a round of TV ads through an affiliate calling itself “Americans for a Conservative Direction.”

The ads are aimed at convincing conservatives to support an immigration reform package now under debate in Congress, Politico said Wednesday.  Some conservatives are leery of the package’s proposal for creating a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, so the ads will emphasize that the reforms call for new border security measures that are “tough,” “bold” and “conservative.”

Americans for a Conservative Direction will spend what Politico calls “seven figures” to run ads in a half-dozen conservative states, where viewers will see Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio extolling the proposals.  Ads in a seventh state, South Carolina, will tout the conservative credentials of GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is supporting the proposed reforms at the risk of a re-election challenge from his own party’s right wing.

Immigration reform is at the top of the tech industry’s priority list for government action these days.  While Zuckerberg and other tech leaders have described it as a matter of fairness, they also see economic benefits to making it easier for talented workers and entrepreneurs to join the tech industry here.

According to Politico, the new conservative affiliate of FWD.us has enlisted a number of well-connected Republican advisors including former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.  The parent group will also court liberals and independents through a second affiliate called the Council for American Job Growth.

Here’s the Rubio commercial:


Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (350 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.