Culture

Zuckerberg's Fwd.us slams Trump's deportation plan as 'absurd'

Technically Incorrect: The political action group supported by Bill Gates, Marissa Mayer and many others in tech focuses on both the morality and economics of sending 11 million people away.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's political action group is very much against mass deportation.

UN webcast/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I worry about postelection, prerobot America.

Will this really be a country that gets a neighbor to build a wall and then deports 11 million undocumented immigrants in order, supposedly, to give more opportunities to documented Americans?

This is the promise of leading (in many polls) Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

During Wednesday night's Republican debate, he didn't seem to waver from that intention. He did, however, deny referring to fellow candidate Marco Rubio as "Mark Zuckerberg's personal senator" for advocating for expansion of the H1-B visa program, which US tech companies use to attract skilled workers from overseas. The denial came despite the "personal senator" remark being plainly written on the Trump website.

Zuckerberg, the CEO of social-networking giant Facebook, has been the leading light in supporting the political action group Fwd.us, which vows to "fix our country's broken immigration system." Tech luminaries such as Bill Gates and Marissa Mayer have also lent their support to the organization.

So in response to the debate, Fwd.us CEO Todd Schulte posted a robust response to Trump's plan. He described the plan as "horrible."

"It is astounding that some in a party that espouses smaller government wants one big enough to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and millions of their US citizen family members," he said. "Mass deportation is absurd on its face and these policies are indefensible on human, economic and political grounds."

How many new government hires would it take to deport 11 million people? Trump's immigration plan already calls for the hiring of three times as many Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Or is the idea to hire people to deport themselves?

Mass deportation may strike more than a few as especially inhumane and un-American, especially many who are from immigrant families who arrived in the US via disparate routes. America has long welcomed people as people, rather than as foreigners.

However, Schulte decided to focus rather on the "astronomical costs" of such an idea. He doesn't suggest what these costs might be. Indeed, has anyone even attempted to calculate such costs? The Trump campaign wasn't immediately available for comment.

Fwd.us has insisted from its very inception that US immigration policy is, in Zuckerberg's words, "unfit for today's world." It wants more H1-B visas to be granted so that hiring can be easier and swifter, while Trump wants more restrictions on the program.

Those of a drier nature might suggest that bringing in more foreign workers on H1-B visas ties them more easily and more cost-effectively (for their employers) to the tech company that sponsors them.

Indeed, Trump's immigration plan suggests raising the prevailing H1-B salary.

"More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program's lowest allowable wage level, and more than 80 percent for its bottom two," it says. "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 US, instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas."

Schulte, whose organization claims allies on both sides of politics, insists that 75 percent of Americans support "common sense immigration reform."

The problem, though, is that there's little common ground on what constitutes common sense. As election candidates pander to their perceived audiences, they might say anything that they believe will have visceral appeal.

American politics simply isn't geared toward planning. Instead, it's a series of cycles punctuated by excessive dramas that suck energy from the task of actually governing.

Indeed, Congress and the whole lobbying system are one of the best advertisements for government by algorithm.