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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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August 6th, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wades into immigration debate

Mark Zuckerberg, the 29-year-old multi-billionaire, has made his mark in Silicon Valley.

But is the founder of Facebook the new face of politics?

In San Francisco Monday night, Zuckerberg called for comprehensive immigration reform during opening remarks at the premiere of "Documented," a film by his journalist friend Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant.

"People often talk about two parts of the issue: high-skilled H1Bs, the issue that tech companies have, and full comprehensive immigration reform, as if they're two completely separate issues. But anyone who knows a DREAMer, knows that they're not," Zuckerberg said at the event.

DREAMers are advocates for a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, especially those with strong school records, who were brought to the United States by their parents.

After mentoring students who worried whether they could go to college in America because of their immigration status, Zuckerberg decided to get involved.

"I went home and I talked to some of my friends who run tech companies, and we decided that we were going to try to do our best in helping out, and created this organization that would hopefully push to get comprehensive immigration reform," said Zuckerberg.

The result was FWD.us, a political organization that has in a few short months run $5 million in TV advertising, mobilized grassroots support in a number of states, and retained lobbying firms in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, to push its cause.

Senate aides say the group's efforts were instrumental in getting the bill passed in the upper chamber. But a real test will come this fall when the legislation is up for debate in the House.

"There is no way that the Senate bill will pass in the House now," said Norm Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute.

"Clearly there are a number of Republicans in the House who would like to pass a separate H1B visa bill, grab the support of Zuckerberg and others, pass the border security stuff, get those things enacted, and then take the pressure off a comprehensive bill," said Ornstein.

While this is Zuckerberg's first attempt at political advocacy, he's started to make some moves as a political player, hosting a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama, and a fundraiser for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The bipartisan billionaire says he also plans to raise cash for Democratic U.S. Senate contender Cory Booker, also of New Jersey.

But for Zuckerberg, immigration reform is as much about good business as it is good politics.

"That's why we're here today on the stage representing FWD.us, because this is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country, and for us to do what's right," said Zuckerberg.

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