Tech leaders poured millions into FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group that has dominated ad buys, launched elaborate hackathons and coddled conservatives in an effort to revamp the country’s immigration system. It galloped into the debate with the tech industry’s classic certainty but wound up facing the same obstacles that have halted reform for decades.

Now, as hope for an overhaul fades, the group must reconcile Silicon Valley’s highflying ambition with the sobering lessons of Washington.

“In Silicon Valley, if you don’t like the taxi industry, you start Uber, you go around it,” said FWD.us President Joe Green, who helped establish the group alongside Zuckerberg, his former Harvard roommate. “With politics you have to work through it, and doing that can be very challenging.”