Appearing at the premiere of a documentary on immigration reform in San Francisco last night, Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his position on immigration reform: he is for it, but the privacy settings on what that "it" means to his advocacy group FWD.us are set pretty high. Or — more accurately — which aspects of reform he emphasizes seems to be audience-dependent, save for his consistent support of more high-tech visas.
Zuckerberg appeared in San Francisco last night to introduce the film Documented by Jose Antonio Vargas, the journalist who revealed himself as an undocumented immigrant in 2011. The documentary profiles some of the young advocates for the reform proposals included in the DREAM Act — "DREAMers," as they're known — which would establish a pathway for undocumented minors to get permanent residency if they graduate high school and go on to college or enlist in the military. The bill has been blocked multiple times by Congressional Republicans.
Zuckerberg's introduction began with his story of working with undocumented kids in East Palo Alto. He then explained his goal.
People often talk about two parts of the issue — high-skill H-1Bs, the issues that tech companies have, and full, comprehensive immigration reform — as though they're two completely separate issues. But anyone who knows a DREAMer knows that they're not. The students who, no matter where they were born, coming into this country are going to be tomorrow's entrepreneurs and the people creating jobs in the country. … These are issues that don't just touch our part of the industry, but really touch the whole country and touch what is right to do as a people.
Zuckerberg knew the audience he was speaking to, an audience that included a healthy number of technology sector executives. He led with H-1B visa reform, which was also the focal point of the FWD.us roll-out. For a long time, tech companies have sought increased numbers of annual H-1B visas, a type of visa that allows people with specialized skills to live and work in the United States. For the companies, those visas allow programmers and scientists essential to their work into the country.