Silicon Valley backs Obama on immigration to Supreme Court

Steven Loeb · March 9, 2016 · Short URL: sent a brief to the Supreme Court urging them to uphold executive orders

For Silicon Valley, and Mark Zuckerberg in particular, it seems, immigration is one of the key issues that some of the biggest players are willing to fight for.

So no surprise that many of them are in favor of President Obama's executive order, signed in 2014, which would allow illegal immigrants who were either the parents of American citizens, or those who were brought into the country by their parents when they were children, to stay in the country. 

Those orders are now going in front of the Supreme Court., the political action committee that Zuckerberg formed in 2013 to tackle immigration reform, a brief to the Court on Tuesday reiterating its support for President Obama. 

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,” the group wrote. 

America’s immigration enforcement policies should ensure that immigrants’ ingenuity, skills, and entrepreneurial spirit are contributing to the US economy.”

The brief was signed by Amplify LA,, , Strong Ventures, HomeHero, as well as individuals such as Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman,  Jeremy Levine, Ron Conway and Max Levchin.

Zuckerberg also wrote a note on Facebook about the brief, and his reasons for backing immigration reform. 

As I travel around the world, I see many nations turning inwards. I hear growing voices for building walls and distancing people labeled as ‘other.' Whether it's refugees, undocumented immigrants or underrepresented minorities, I hope we have the wisdom to understand that the best path forward is always to bring people together, not divide them," he wrote.

"We are a nation of immigrants. We are one world. And we are all connected. We must have the humanity to welcome in these children and to bring people together -- and that's what we told the Supreme Court today."

Not everyone is a fan Silicon Valley's stance on immigration, obviously. Earlier this year Republican frontrunner Donald Trump (shudder!excoriated tech companies over H-1B visas, which has been lobbying to increase, and which Trump accused companies in the ecosystem of using to pay its workers lower wages, and to take away jobs from qualified Americans. 

H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis in what are known as "specialty occupations." These are jobs that require highly specialized knowledge, such as computer science. These workers are supposed to be paid the same as all other works, but many have accused companies that hire them of essentially exploiting them by paying them less. has lobbied Congress to get them raise the cap on the number of H-1B visas granted each year. Currently 65,000 H-1B visas can be granted each year, with an additional 20,000 visas available for people who have obtained a master's degree or higher. 

In 2013, the Democrat-led Senate passed a bill to raise the number to 110,000, but the Republican-led House of Representatives killed the bill. 

"More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program's lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas," Trump wrote. responded to Trump's accusations, saying that "The idea we should radically restrict pathways for highly-skilled immigrants to come and stay here is –again – just wrong."

While Trump has seemingly moved away from his anti-immigrant language lately, perhaps this latest move by Silicon Valley will reawaken that sleeping giant. 

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