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An immigration reform group co-founded by Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg called the mass deportation of illegal immigrants "absurd," after Zuckerberg was mentioned during Wednesday evening's Republican presidential debate.
Republican Donald Trump had initially denied that he called fellow candidate Sen. Marco Rubio "Mark Zuckerberg's personal senator" — an assertion that remained live on Trump's campaign website as of Thursday afternoon. The website further says that Rubio "has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities."
FWD.us, the advocacy group backed by Zuckerberg, responded in a statement that didn't mention H-1Bs or Trump by name but did take on the Republican candidate's immigration proposals, which include mass deportation.
"Common sense immigration reform is the only issue with broad bipartisan support that would reduce the deficit by $820 billion," FWD.us president Todd Schulte said in a statement released after the debate. "It is astounding that some in a party that espouses smaller government wants one big enough to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and millions of their U.S. citizen family members."
"Mass deportation is absurd on its face and these policies are indefensible on human, economic, and political grounds," Schulte said.
Immigration in general and H-1B visas in particular can be contentious issues in the tech world. Microsoft, Google and Facebook were among the top 10 entities lobbying on immigration issues in 2015, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Tech companies are often among those who advocate for changes in the process to grant H-1B visas, which are intended to attract foreign workers in "specialty" occupations. But the top recipients of the visas, which include Deloitte Consulting, Cognizant Technology Solution and Tata Consultancy Services, aren't those same companies familiar to many Americans.