Earlier this year, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg decided he was going to take up the pro-immigration reform side to make life easier for Silicon Valley’s skilled labor.
Thanks to immigration reform legislation pending before the U.S. Senate, Zuckerberg and his efforts have attracted controversy. Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions mentioned him by name on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Sessions questioned Zuckerberg’s desire to recruit labor and the loyalties of legislators who support the same type of immigration reform as Zuckerberg.
“Working people in this country are going to be hammered by this legislation,” Sessions said. “We need to be passing laws that help them get jobs, help them have higher wages, help them have higher and better benefits, and more full-time jobs, not fewer full-time jobs. I don’t see how we owe loyalty to Mr. Zuckerberg who’s … running ads telling us what we’re supposed to do. Does he know real people out there suffering today? Doesn’t impress me. Claims he’s some convention of conservatives running this ad. I’m not aware Mr. Zuckerberg is a conservative. Do we owe our loyalty to him because he brilliantly produced Facebook or do we owe our loyalty to the working men and women who vote for us, who fight our wars, pay our taxes and try to serve our country every year?”
Sessions challenged Zuckerberg to seek domestic labor instead of labor abroad and argued loyalty should lie to the workforce within the United States.
“Well, I suspect if Mr. Zuckerberg were to post job openings tonight on his Facebook, put out his salaries what he wants to pay, he’d find there might be plenty of Americans that want to take these jobs,” Sessions said. “I suspect so. So, I’d ask him to do so, put on your website what kind of qualifications, what kind of salaries you’ll pay and let’s see if we don’t have more applications than you’ve suggested exist out there. We know we have college graduates in large numbers in STEM fields also having a hard time finding work. We know that’s a fact. We’ve got senior engineers and scientists and computer people that would like to go to work, too. Maybe they’ve been laid off. Maybe there’s been downsizing and they’ve got experience. Are they not to be considered?”
“We’ve got to bring people in through some of these work programs for a period of time to take the jobs?” he continued. “Well, a good immigration plan can work. We may need to bring in some workers. We certainly need seasonal workers that we can bring in to America if we do it right, and we need a guest worker program. I support that. And I support the million people a year that are admitted into our country who work here every year. But this is a huge increase. The guest worker program will double under this legislation. So I’m afraid that we’re not serving the legitimate interest of the American working men and women — immigrant, native-born, black, Asian, white, Hispanic that are here today, struggling today. Are we serving them if we bring in more people than the economy can absorb, that we can see will pull down their wages, make it harder for them to have a job?”