Mark Zuckerberg challenges Trump on immigration

Wiki Editorial Jan 28 2017 12:00AM World News

Mark Zuckerberg criticized Donald Trump’s executive order to severely limit immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries, becoming the most high-profile tech industry leader to speak out against the president since the election.

“Like many of you, I’m concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” the Facebook CEO wrote on his Facebook page. “We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat ... We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That’s who we are.”

Zuckerberg also prodded Trump to stand by earlier statements regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) and H1-B visas, which are of particular concern to tech companies that use the visas to hire talent from overseas.

“I was glad to hear President Trump say he’s going to ‘work something out’ for Dreamers – immigrants who were brought to this country at a young age by their parents,” he wrote. “I’m also glad the President believes our country should continue to benefit from ‘people of great talent coming into the country.’”


Zuckerberg’s statement, though restrained, is notable at a time when the rest of Silicon Valley appears to be rushing to fall in line with the Trump administration.


Tech leaders overwhelmingly opposed Trump’s candidacy during the campaign, citing his xenophobia, protectionism, “poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works”. Zuckerberg himself took a veiled swipe at Trump in April 2016, saying “I hear fearful voices talking about building walls … It takes courage to chose hope over fear,” at a conference.


But following Trump’s surprise election, tech leaders quickly changed their tune, offering up congratulations and – in Zuckerberg’s case – platitudes about “feeling hopeful”.


Top executives from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel and other countries travelled to Trump Tower in December to make nice with the president-elect. Tesla’s Elon Musk and Uber’s Travis Kalanick joined Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum to advise him on his economic agenda. Google co-hosted a party for Republican lawmakers with the right-wing Independent Journal Review, the New York Times reported, while Facebook hosted an inauguration party with the right-wing Daily Caller. 


While it’s not surprising that major corporations would curry favor with the party in power, Zuckerberg has previously spoken out about progressive issues, such as defending the Black Lives Matter movement. The CEO has recently raised suspicions that he harbors political aspirations.


Zuckerberg’s post was personal, referencing his own great-grandparents, who immigrated from Germany, Austria and Poland, and his wife’s parents, who were refugees from China and Vietnam.


“We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here,” he wrote in a passage that will not allay anyone’s suspicions that he plans to run for elected office. 


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