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Building support for immigration reform

Zuckerberg gives guidance founder Joe Green supporters join in

Dropbox founder Drew Houston


Reform is critical to our identity

Zukerberg speaks out


Teams coming together

Up close with Zuckerberg

Joe Green pauses for a photo

Core to our American identity

A roomful of youthful programmers -- all of them undocumented citizens -- listened closely last night as notable Silicon Valley visionaries offered their support for immigration reform.

Industry leaders including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman (center), and Dropbox founder Drew Houston will personally consult with the teams as they spend 24 hours building prototypes for advocacy tools to help advance meaningful immigration reform, the hackathon's host, is an organization promoting better policies to keep the United States and its citizens competitive in a global economy -- including comprehensive immigration and education reform.

Speaking last night at the hackathon kickoff at LinkedIn's Mountain View, Calif., campus Zuckerberg boldly declared, "I think this is one of the biggest civil rights issues of our time."
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET believes the United States is falling behind other countries, failing to educate and retain tech-savvy workers. Hiring of the best and brightest is essential, and wants to advocate for education reforms that produce more advanced degree graduates in the science, technology, and math fields.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, far left, gives guidance to one of the teams.

Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET founder Joe Green (standing) previously founded two successful community organizing and cause leadership sites, Causes and NationBuilder, to empower people to organize around important social issues.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET supporters are encouraged to take part in the hackathon by tuning in to the livestream. The closing demonstrations and awards ceremony will be broadcast Thursday at 7:15 p.m. PT right here.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
The coders at the Hackathon at LinkedIn will work straight through for 24 hours, ending around 5 p.m. on Thursday. “People would be shocked by what you can accomplish in 24 hours,” said Dropbox founder Drew Houston (standing).

“I think our friends in Washington could take note of that,” he said.
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UnheardVoices, one of the code teams participating in the hackathon, is an online space where communities are able to share videos, pictures, and vote to show support for a trending piece. UnheardVoices says they use humor as a tool to raise awareness of a need for immigration reform.
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Working together, the "DREAMers," mentors, and founders will help showcase the incredible promise of America's future innovators in tech, underscoring the critical contributions immigrants -- and particularly DREAMers -- are already making to our economy and our country.

LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman (center) told the room that immigration is an important issue for the future of the United States, but also critical to our identity and our past.

According to Hoffman, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a first- or second-generation immigrant as one of their founders, amounting to trillions of dollars in revenue. "These things matter," he said.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Mark Zuckerberg visited Washington in September on behalf of, pressing Congress to support an overhaul of immigration policy. The last time a major immigration reform law was passed, says founder Joe Green, was in 1986, before many of the Hackathon participants were even born.
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Luis Aguilar, 25, from Falls Church, Va., speaks at the opening of the Hackathon at the LinkedIn offices in Mountain View, Calif. Aguilar immigrated to the United States at the age of 9 from Mexico, and has taught himself how to code using online classes and tutorials.

Aguilar says immigration reform means justice and dignity for the 11 million aspiring Americans in the United States and the opportunity to see his father, who was deported from the United States when Aguilar was 15, and whom he hasn't seen since.
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The UnheardVoices team has a little rally following a moving speech by Sarahi Espinoza, who had to stop attending school in order to care for her father, who was ill with cancer. Espinoza made it back to school, and now attends Cañada College, and has created her own Web site,, where she hopes to inspire other young people to go back to college regardless of their circumstances.

When her Web developer stopped replying to assist her, Espinoza took matters into her own hands and taught herself how to code. She hopes immigration reform will mean she can be reunited with her mother, who returned to Mexico to petition entry into the US through the legal system and has been stuck in limbo for eight years.
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The event provided a unique opportunity to get up close with Silicon Valley tech titans like Mark Zuckerberg.
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Joe Green pauses for a photo with the team during the kickoff to the Hackathon Wednesday afternoon.
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
Reid Hoffman gives advice to one of the teams at the Hackathon for immigration reform at the LinkedIn campus in Mountain View, Calif.

Hoffman said that when the team was thinking about what kinds of things would encapsulate the identity, morality, and economics of what is important to immigration reform, a hackathon was the obvious choice.

It is the notion, Hoffman said, that "this is what it is to be an American. I can improve my life, I can improve what is possible, and I can do it by thinking about business to start. This is one of the things that is very core to our American identity."
Caption by / Photo by James Martin/CNET
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