zuck v. texas

Mark Zuckerberg asks Supreme Court to support Obama’s executive action on immigration

Photo illustration by Getty, Jorge Rivas/Fusion

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday signed on to a brief submitted to the Supreme Court urging the justices to support President Obama’s executive actions that temporarily protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation and gives them the ability to legally work in the United States.

“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,” read the brief, signed by Zuckerberg and more than 60 entrepreneurs and business leaders.

“By contrast, the continuing threat of removal and other uncertainties facing undocumented individuals weaken our economy,” read the brief obtained exclusively by Fusion .

The brief is signed by a mix of 63 companies and individuals, including Reid Hoffman, the CEO of LinkedIn; Redfin Corporation, a real estate brokerage; Taquería El Rincón Mexicano, a Mexican restaurant in Grand Rapids, Mich., and mitú Network, a tech-media company targeting young Latinos.

Zuckerberg is now the most prominent person in the business community to have come forward in support for the executive orders.

Obama’s executive orders on immigration are being challenged in United States v. Texas, perhaps the most controversial case on the Supreme Court’s docket this year. Along with 25 other states, Texas asked a district judge to halt the implementation of Obama’s executive actions, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which could temporarily protect an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to lawfully seek work. The Supreme Court will hear the case in mid-April, deciding whether the president had the legal authority to implement the executive actions.

Republicans in Congress are vehemently opposed to the executive actions. House Speaker Paul Ryan last week announced plans to hold a vote to pass a resolution that would allow the chamber to file an amicus brief urging the court to block Obama’s executive orders. House Republicans are also expected to request time during oral arguments to present their views—an unprecedented move, according to Politico.

“Failure to address the status of undocumented immigrants and their families also erodes the long- term skills base of our workforce,” read the brief.

Other cases currently before the Supreme Court consider challenges around contraceptive coverage, affirmative action, abortion rights, public unions and voting rights. But it’s the immigration case that could redefine the balance of power between the president and Congress, according to legal experts.

In 2013, Zuckerberg and several technology executives and investors created Fwd.Us, a nonprofit advocacy group, to push for comprehensive immigration reform. The Fwd.us website list 15 co-founders for the organization, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Ruchi Sanghvi, Facebook’s first female engineer and the former vice president of operations at Dropbox.

“Failure to address the status of undocumented immigrants and their families also erodes the long- term skills base of our workforce”

- Brief submitted to the Supreme Court by business community

Like many other industry-backed interest groups, Fwd.us has faced criticism because some of its founders have built multimillion dollar companies with the help of foreign-born software engineers who may be paid less than their U.S.-born counterparts. Other critics have expressed concerns that the group lobbies for policies that benefit more educated tech-savvy immigrants.

Fwd.us says the group supports comprehensive immigration reform and that “far too many talented immigrants from fully contributing to our communities and our economy.”

“Expanding DACA and implementing DAPA would ensure that the nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants who are already contributing to our economy and our communities can come out of the shadows and live free from the fear of deportation,” FWD.us president Todd Schulte told Fusion.

“Entrepreneurs and business leaders across the country support the President’s executive actions because they know that these critical policy changes will boost our economy and create American jobs,” Schulte said.

One of Fwd.us’ latest projects is ImmigrationVoter.com, a website that provides resources for voters who have made immigration reform a deciding voting issue. The website recently featured a six-part video series called “11 Million Stories: The Truth About Mass Deportation.” One of the video’s features Sophie Cruz, the 5-year-old girl who handed the pope a letter during a parade in Washington, discussing the moment her mother was deported.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were among 118 mayors who signed a separate brief urging the court to allow President Obama’s executive action on immigration to move forward.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the United States v. Texas case beginning April 18th and likely render its ruling in June.