Fwd.us prepares for election year battle

Emerging as one of the top issues so far in the 2016 presidential debate, immigration is at the top of mind of activists on all sides of the debate. And because much of the conversation is currently dominated with calls to curtail immigration, organizations like Fwd.us are working to shift the focus back onto reform.

As one of the top-funded immigration-advocacy groups, Fwd.us, founded by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, is set to weigh in with around $10 million on digital, radio, tv and cable advertising, particularly investing in battleground states.Launched in 2013, Fwd.us backers, besides Zuckerberg, includes tech giants like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

The projected $10 million ad spend is roughly equivalent to the amount the group spent for the midterm elections in 2013 and 2014. The effort has played a big role in bringing immigration interests to mainstream outlets.

“One role that FWD.us did is put a big voice out there on TV, with a serious amount of money behind it, to fill a void that otherwise exists on the campaign airwaves,” Elizabeth Wilner, a campaign ad analyst with the research firm Kantar Media, told National Public Radio.

While Fwd.us has found success in giving immigration advocacy a bigger voice, this time around the group is targeted on countering the build-a-wall message from Donald Trump and other Republican candidates. The latest Fwd.us effort, launched in early December, is called Impact Immigration 2016. The initiative is described as an “intensive year-long effort focused on highlighting the need for immigration reform while exposing the flawed concept of mass deportation throughout the 2016 elections.”

Impact Immigration 2016 efforts include:

  • Development of a new “Immigration Action Voter” campaign
  • Share stories of those struggling within the U.S. immigration system
  • Inform and empower immigration reform supporters who closely follow immigration legislation
  • Recruit hundreds of new immigration reform leaders, particularly in battleground states
  • Demonstrate American support of immigration through the release of research and polling data, showing they rebuke the “appalling idea of mass deportation”

Fwd.us research shows:

  • Voters prefer a presidential candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship for immigrants (74% earned pathway/18% deport)
  • Voters oppose the revocation of citizenship of those born to undocumented immigrants (32% support/61% oppose)

“Our goal is simple: setting up the best possible atmosphere for passing immigration reform beginning in January 2017,” the statement says.

To this end, much of the Fwd.us resources and the Impact Immigration 2016 effort focus on community outreach and voter education. Since its inception, Fwd.us has hosted more than 14,000 chapter members in nine cities at over 700 public events. The organization has also organized individual meetings, roundtables and high-level discussions with elected officials.

Of course, in moving the cause of immigration reform forward, Zuckerberg and others will also be in the position to tap top talent from around the world. On announcing the Fwd.us organziation, the Facebook founder wroter, “In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country.” Tags: fwd.us, zuckerberg immigration, silicon valley immigration, election 2016.

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