Computer geeks dedicated to figuring out the nation's complicated and controversial immigration problem joined tech luminaries on Thursday as part of a "DREAMer Hackathon" at LinkedIn headquarters in Silicon Valley.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's political action committee, FWD.us, sponsored the 25-hour event in Mountain View, Calif., so that 20 undocumented DREAMers from across the country could work with with top product designers, engineers, and other hackers to work on prototypes for advocacy tools to help advance meaningful immigration reform.
The DREAM Act, which is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, would give conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants of "good moral character" who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment. California passed a version of the act which mostly deals with tuition, but the federal government has not.
Jorge Torres was hacking away early Thursday morning as some other hacker buddies slept on couches. Immigration is meaningful to him as his father became a legal U.S. citizen this week.
Torres said "just becoming legal" isn't all that easy.
"A lot of people say, 'Why don't you just get legalized and sign some papers?'" Torres asked rhetorically. "It's not that easy. It's not just a straight line. It's a tangled mess."
FWD.us founders Zuckerberg, his old college roommate Joe Green, along with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Dropbox's Drew Houston, ex-Groupon chief Andrew Mason, and Mark Zuckerberg were there to help.
Zuckerberg has made immigration reform one of his key issues he'd like the nation to tackle. In August, he spoke publicly for the first time while introducing a film called "Documented," saying that his inspiration to help people become legal came from children.
"One raised his hand and said I’m not sure I can go to college because I’m undocumented, it touched me," Zuckerberg said at the time.
Fwd.us is livestreaming some of the hackathon here.