Tech

Zuckerberg’s lobby group announces hackathon with illegal immigrants

Tech-savvy illegal immigrants are being given a chance to prove their mettle alongside renown American technology entrepreneurs in an upcoming contest in Silicon Valley, where they will code and create projects to promote comprehensive immigration reform.

Facebook founder and CEO Zuckerberg’s political action committee, FWD.us, is hoping to showcase the programming talents of members of the technology community who would most directly benefit from comprehensive immigration reform: illegal immigrants.

The contest, called a hackathon, will be held at LinkedIn’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. from Nov. 20 to 21.

Zuckerberg, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Groupon founder and former CEO Andrew Mason, and Dropbox founder and CEO Drew Houston are expected to work alongside the hackathon’s participants as mentors throughout the event.

“Each team will create a project or application that could help supporters share stories, contact members of Congress or show family and friends why they want meaningful immigration reform,” FWD.us states on its website.

Hackathons are a fundamental part of Silicon Valley culture, where programmers will compete individually or in teams to code and create new projects and applications. The prize for winning is respect among peers, money and exposure to prospective employers and venture capitalists.

Silicon Valley has been a major force behind recent immigration reform efforts, promoting a need to compete with overseas markets for high-tech science and engineering talent.

Skeptics of the tech community’s intentions see Silicon Valley’s efforts as a way to hire labor that is cheaper than Americans.

The founder and president of FWD.us, Joe Green, said that the hackathon is a way to make the contributions of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children tangible to the tech community.

“Only with comprehensive immigration reform will our participants and their families be able to work and reside permanently in the United States without fear of deportation,” wrote Green in a blog post on Friday.

“We hope the Hackathon sheds light on just a small fraction of the many talents of the undocumented immigrant community, and how our broken immigration system prevents 11 million people from realizing their full potential,” Green continued.

Follow Josh on Twitter and Facebook