Update on Zuckerberg’s group: fwd.us

On Monday, I blogged about Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration reform group, which had not been launched. The group was launched yesterday (Thursday, April 11, 2013), and most of the details were as expected in my previous blog post. The group is called FWD.us and has an eponymous website. The roster of supporters on the website reads like a who’s who of the tech industry Here are links to some news and commentary items related to the group that were published at and after launch:

Here’s a quote from Zuckerberg’s op-ed that reveals his vision for the immigration-related agenda of the group, and just how far it is from an open borders vision:

Comprehensive immigration reform that begins with effective border security, allows a path to citizenship and lets us attract the most talented and hardest-working people, no matter where they were born.

Some of the reactions from different people whom I’ve discussed this with include (note that some of the reactions are mutually contradictory, indicating the diversity of people I’ve discussed this with):

  • Zuckerberg’s op-ed is boilerplate text, i.e., it reveals nothing specific, and could be widely re-used for any future direction of the group.
  • Zuckerberg’s use of an overtly citizenist framing for the group’s ambitions is interesting, though not necessarily uplifting. The competitive angle to Zuckerberg’s citizenism is even more unfortunate, though he does pay lip service to migration not necessarily being a zero sum game.
  • Zuckerberg’s selectivity — attract the most talented and hardest-working people — suggests either a degree of selectivity even higher than that found in the modern immigration regime in the United States, or a serious degree of delusion regarding just how many potential migrants could be the “most talented” and/or the “hardest-working people.”
  • Zuckerberg’s putting securing the borders at the top of his agenda is puzzling.
  • Zuckerberg’s focus on a path to citizenship suggests a territorialist focus, which does not seem to resonate well with the open borders message. It’s not in conflict with complete open borders, but could conflict with some keyhole solutions such as guest worker programs.

Hopefully, we’ll publish more on this group and on other related initiatives as we get more information.

UPDATE: Here is a more detailed post from Nathan with his criticisms of Zuckerberg.

4 thoughts on “Update on Zuckerberg’s group: fwd.us”

  1. “Zuckerberg’s selectivity — attract the most talented and hardest-working people”

    Most talented 50%, 25%, 10%, 5% of the global population? Without a number the claim isn’t precise enough to call delusory. And immigration at current levels of quality could be increased dramatically by relaxing quotas and increasing the speed of immigration processes, even combined with some increase in selectivity (to make up for the selection built into delays that favor the patient and hard-working). Most college graduates are not in the United States.

    “Zuckerberg’s putting securing the borders at the top of his agenda is puzzling.”

    Then why is this phrase used so frequently by those pushing amnesty or increased immigration? That common practice suggests that it works: cheap talk that the borders will be secured defuses opposition, but normally doesn’t translate into action on a scale close to that of amnesty or immigration increase.

    1. My reading of “most talented and hardest-working people ” — considering the use of the superlative — would be about 2 standard deviations above the mean in at least one of the two traits [This would be the expected base cutoff for Facebook engineers, for instance, and for Stanford students]. Even assuming the sets are disjoint, that is about 5% of the world population, if I am doing my math correct. And, it’s not as if all that 5% of the world population that is not already in the US would wish to move there. [Comment edited in numerical substance]

    2. It’s not clear to me that talk of securing the borders will defuse the opposition. It seems at least as likely to energize proponents of border security — “even Mark Zuckerberg agrees with us” style. At best, I think it is a reflexive and ill-considered statement, rather than a deliberate red herring to distract restrictionists and other border security proponents.

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