By framing the debate as a civil rights issue, immigration reform advocates have been able to change the context of the discussion over legislation to fix the country’s broken system. On Nov. 24, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took up that baton in an interview he gave to ABC’s Sunday morning news program “This Week.”
The 29-year-old billionaire recently founded the group FWD.us, which is dedicated to reforming the U.S. immigration system, and he has been especially focused on the issue of providing a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. By framing immigration reform as a civil rights issue, Zuckerberg is hoping he can rally the support of people who might otherwise be on the fence about many of the issues surrounding comprehensive immigration reform.
When he was challenged on his civil rights assertion, Zuckerberg told the ABC interviewer, “There are a lot of misconceptions about that. A lot of them [immigrants] came here because they just want to work. They want to help out their families and they want to contribute.”
That sort of humanitarian approach is the kind of argument that helped deliver equal rights to other previously marginalized groups like African-Americans and LGBT individuals, who now enjoy more equal protection under the law.
Zuckerberg talks “dreamers”
The Facebook CEO also spent time discussing his belief that immigration reform could help fill the void of talented and qualified science and math professionals in the country. One group he pointed to was so-called “dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
By passing the DREAM Act, he argued, those children could come out of the shadows and use their intelligence, education and talent to become part of the workforce. Thus, those children, many of whom come from humble beginnings, could become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, helping to fuel the American economy.