The Council for American Job Growth (CAJG) was established in April 2013 by the founders of the pro-Democrat organization FWD.us—most notably Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg—to urge liberals and progressives to support “comprehensive” reform to the “broken” U.S. immigration system that has been “stalling job creation, hurting families, and hindering America’s competitiveness in the global economy.” Immigration reform, says CAJG, would “help small businesses continue to create and fill good jobs, and strengthen communities and American families.”
CAJG is a sister group to Americans for a Conservative Direction, which was also formed by FWD.us to advocate for immigration reform, but to a conservative rather than a leftwing constituency. FWD.us communications director Kate Hansen explains that “maintaining two separate entities … to support elected officials across the political spectrum—separately—means that we can more effectively communicate with targeted audiences of their constituents.”
From its inception, CAJG stood firmly behind Senate Bill 744, known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Sponsored by the so-called “Gang of Eight” U.S. senators (four Democrats and four Republicans), this bill called for the provision of a path-to-citizenship for most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already residing in the United States; an expedited path-to-citizenship for illegals who first entered the U.S. as minors; a doubling of the number of future legal immigrants permitted to enter the U.S. from Mexico; and a continuance of the practice of “birthright citizenship,” whereby American citizenship is automatically granted to babies born in the United States regardless of their parents’ legal status.
CAJG’s board of directors consists of Alida Garcia, deputy Latino vote director for President Barack Obama‘s 2012 re-election campaign; Joe Lockhart, press secretary for President Bill Clinton from 1998-2000; and Scott Murphy, former Democratic congressman of New York.
In the spring of 2013, many progressive activists were angry when CAJG produced a television ad that said nothing at all about immigration reform while praising Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska for “working to open ANWR to drilling and investing in the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline”—positions that conflicted with FWD.us co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s previous calls for the U.S. to move its economy away from fossil fuels and toward solar- and wind-based energy sources. The Sierra Club publicly urged Zuckerberg to “re-think his priorities” and refrain from “pushing dirty fuel schemes that threaten our future and our families,” and the environmental group 350.org held a protest rally outside of Facebook’s corporate headquarters in California.[
ABC News’ deputy political director Michael Falcone provided insight into why CAJG, whose chief concern is immigration reform, was running ads that not only said nothing about immigration, but also seemed to betray the core values of its leading founder. “The ads are meant to provide political cover for senators [in politically conservative or centrist districts] to cast politically risky votes in favor of immigration reform,” said Falcone. In a similar vein, the leftwing group ThinkProgress said that the ads “appear to be trying to give political cover to vulnerable centrists, in hopes of ensuring their support for major immigration reform.”
CAJG is funded through FWD.us.