The Zuckerberg Factor

Mark Zuckerberg has been a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform.
Mark Zuckerberg has been a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform.

Whenever the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform comes up, I like to remind my allies that comprehensive means comprehensive.

When a comprehensive bill is being pushed, it is the sum of many different pieces, some of which you support, some you only support half-heartedly, and others you would normally oppose. But each part of the comprehensive bill brings some new supporter to the table. To get Republicans to support legalization, there has to be a border security component.

As unlikely bedfellows hop into the immigration reform bed, a lot of us cast a jaundiced eye at business as an ally, and with good reason. Big business has sometimes misused H-1b visas to speed the outsourcing of work from the U.S. to South Asia and none of us want a return to Braceros program. When business talks about supporting a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system, we wonder if they will break from our coalition if they can get a side deal from the conservatives in Congress.

That is why it was very encouraging yesterday to see Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook do a major event advocating for the pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. Zuckerberg said that he was inspired to look closely at the immigration issue when he was tutoring high schoolers and an undocumented immigrant said he was afraid that he would not be able to go to college because of his legal status. “This really touched me and I hadn’t made the connection,” Zuckerberg said.

Yesterday, Zuckerberg hosted a showing of “Documented,” a movie about Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas, where he called for a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. His speech has gotten major media coverage, but more importantly, he let us know that more than naked self-interest is involved in his advocacy for reform.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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