Why Mark Zuckerberg is defending Obama's immigration actions

As of Thursday morning, some 5,000 people have signed the Facebook founder's brief urging the US Supreme Court to greenlight President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.

Kay Nietfeld/AP/File
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles during the awarding ceremony of the newly established Axel Springer Award in Berlin, Feb. 25. Mr. Zuckerberg on Tuesday filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court in support of Presdient Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and dozens of other Silicon Valley tech giants filed a brief this week with the US Supreme Court in support the Obama administration's immigration plan to shield immigrant families from deportation.

I hope we find the compassion and courage to give everyone a fair shot, to treat everyone with respect and dignity, and do what we can to make this world better for all people – not just people who look like us or live near us,” Mr . Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

The brief goes on to spell out the economic case for allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States. A group of California civic, educational, business, and religious leaders made a similar case on Tuesday, as have some 100 US mayors.

Those opposed to Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans have challenged the authority of the president to take such steps. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan filed his own brief in opposition to DAPA with the court this week, charging that the action is the equivalent of writing new laws, a power that rests firmly with the legislative, not the executive, branch.

As of Thursday morning, more than 5,000 people have signed the amici curiae, filed by Zuckerberg’s pro-immigration organization, FWD.us. Mobilizing the tech community, FWD.us is one of the most active groups that support immigration reform. It was responsible for three quarters of all paid media spent in 2013 and 2014 that voiced support for immigration reform, according to Politico.

Now, the group is urging the Supreme Court to reverse a federal court decision to block Mr. Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration in the case, US v. Texas, for which the high court will hear arguments next month. The policies ordered by Mr. Obama would have allowed 5 million undocumented immigrants, including parents of American citizens, to legally stay in the US without immediate deportation.

More than 60 entrepreneurs signed the brief. Prominent individuals include the founder of LinkedIn, the cofounders of PayPal and Yelp, a chief engineer of Dropbox, a prominent angel investor and others.

“Instead of inviting the economic contributions of immigrants, our immigration enforcement policies have often inhibited the productivity of US companies and made it harder for them to compete in the global marketplace,” the brief reads.

“America’s immigration enforcement policies should ensure that immigrants’ ingenuity, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit are contributing to the US economy – and deferred action policies are a helpful start.”

By highlighting that immigrants make up a significant portion of tech company founders – 25 percent in the past decade – Zuckerberg and the other signatories make an economic case for immigrants.

The freeze on Obama’s initiatives, the brief says, enables “an untenable status quo on immigration enforcement policy that injures workers and businesses, and that holds back U.S. economic growth.”

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