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Zuckerberg backs U.S. immigration reforms

Facebook's CEO is moving beyond the H1B visa issue and pushing for broader immigration reforms.

James Martin/CNET

Immigration and visa reform are necessary to boost the U.S. economy and job market, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday.

He spoke on the issue, the Associated Press reported, at the debut screening of "Documented," an autobiographical film based on the work of activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.

Disputing the idea that Silicon Valley execs are simply trying to secure a higher number of H1B visas for their own companies, Zuckerberg told attendees at the event: "This is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country -- and for us to do what's right."

In March, a number of tech executives sent a letter to President Obama, asserting that the current system is "broken" and hampers hiring and R&D -- due to visa shortages, green card delays, and issues that arise when employees have family members who would also need to gain residency.

In June, the Senate approved an immigration bill with a 68-32 vote dubbed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. Under the terms of the bill, security will be increased at the U.S.-Mexico border, H1B visa numbers will receive a boost, and immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally will be given some opportunities to legalize their status.

The act must pass the House, but is expected to face opposition from members who assert that the Senate bill is too lax on security and too generous to those in the United States illegally.

The lobbying efforts of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and other tech giants have focused on H1B visas. However, Zuckerberg also recently founded -- a group that supports offering citizenship to illegal immigrants.

"No matter where they were born, (these students) are going to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs and people creating jobs in this country," Zuckerberg said Monday. "These are issues that don't just touch our part of the industry, but really touch a whole country."

Zuckerberg has called U.S. immigration policy "strange" and "unfit for today's world," an opinion that other Silicon Valley leaders agree with. Zuckerberg has attracted others to support, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.