In all the drama surrounding Facebook’s recent meeting with “leading conservatives” and notable Never Trump leaders such as Glenn Beck, Brent Bozell, and S. E. Cupp, it’s worth remembering that there is a real issue underlying the animus between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump: immigration reform.
Donald Trump launched his bid for president on the issue of stopping illegal immigration, and once he took a commanding lead in the polls he never looked back.
That’s why it’s significant that Zuckerberg’s Facebook would be helping to define conservative “leadership” as having its base within the motley crew of Trump’s detractors.
Mark Zuckerberg was one of the high-tech leaders who came out strongly and publicly in favor of the “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill. Zuckerberg lent not just his celebrity to the cause of promoting amnesty but also a significant amount of lobbying money.
As reported in The Hill, Zuckerberg even led a legal brief in support of Obama’s immigration policies in 2014:
The brief makes a business argument for Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration, saying they have the potential to increase gross domestic product by hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade if allowed to go forward.
‘Instead of inviting the economic contributions of immigrants, our immigration enforcement policies have often inhibited the productivity of U.S. companies and made it harder for them to compete in the global marketplace,’ according to the brief.
Zuckerberg’s concern on immigration reform, however, was not due to his compassion for the lettuce pickers and bed makers. Zuckerberg became an immigration reform proponent as part of his deal to get H-1B visas. As Time reported in 2013:
‘We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants,’ Zuckerberg wrote Thursday in the Washington Post. ‘And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.’ Zuckerberg has joined forces with top executives and founders from Google, Yahoo and LinkedIn to launch a new organization called FWD.us, with the goal of influencing the current debate. Several top venture capitalists are also participating. ‘To lead the world in this new economy, we need the most talented and hardest-working people,’ Zuckerberg wrote. ‘We need to train and attract the best.’
Visa reform is particularly important for these tech titans because immigrants have played such an important role in Silicon Valley.
Remember, this all happened two years before Donald Trump announced his candidacy. Zuckerberg had laid down the gauntlet as an advocate for immigration reform, and Donald Trump’s candidacy represented an existential threat to both Zuckerberg’s political goals and financial investment in the immigration issue.
Anyone who doubts where the money behind the push for immigration reform comes from need only look at a report on who is financing the lobbying effort. A look at the top 10 list of immigration lobbying concerns shows the money came from tech companies looking to expand the H-1B program. As OpenSecrets reports:
The number of clients lobbying on immigration jumped in 2012, from 317 to 355, OpenSecrets.org data shows. That’s the highest level since 2008. Just as in 2011, the tech industry was the most active on this issue. Out of the top ten organizations filing the most lobbying reports that mentioned the issue, six were tech companies or trade groups. Their big concern has to do with wanting more visas for highly skilled workers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. While the national unemployment rate remains high, tech companies continually face problems in filling all of their available positions.
But in order for the tech companies to get what they wanted as regards H-1B’s, they had to make a deal with the likes of members of the Gang of Eight, such as Chuck Schumer and Marco Rubio. The deal as proposed by the politicians was straightforward: offer your support for the broader goals of immigration reform, and we will get you what you want on H-1Bs.
That was the deal that was made, which led to such spectacles as Mark Zuckerberg supporting a coding event for “dreamers,” or the illegal aliens who were brought to this country by their parents.
It’s important to remember that the current issue with Facebook censoring trending topics and skewing the results is about more than just free speech or how the new and ubiquitous social media infrastructure is affecting political messaging. Zuckerberg himself has a vested political interest in the outcome of this election.
Of course, it’s doubtful that any of the “leading conservatives” in attendance brought this point up.