Sure, Mark Zuckerberg is advancing his own economic interests with an ad campaign that expresses concern only for fairness and the national interest. Sure, he would rather hire young foreign computer experts than similarly skilled Americans over 30. But give him some credit. The organization he founded to advocate for Gang of Eight-style immigration reform, FWD.us, is a lot more effective at messaging than Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King.
King last month enshrined himself in the Gratuitous Insult Hall of Fame with his mockery of the DREAMers. Illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, the DREAMers are the most sympathetic sub-group seeking legal status in the United States.
After King grudgingly acknowledged that some DREAMers may be valedictorians, he pivoted sharply to this nastiness: "For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
Now Zuckerberg is bankrolling a television spot that features a young DREAMer who dreams of being a Marine, just like those who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi in the battle for Okinawa.
The ad shows Alejandro Morales, who says he was seven months old when his family moved — illegally — to Chicago. Now he's a young man, handsome enough for a Marine recruiting poster. He's also idealistic in a way that must make his family proud. In high school he was a standout as a member of junior ROTC.
In the 60-second ad Morales stands by the Iwo Jima Memorial in a position any Marine would recognize as "parade rest". He says this:
"I want to be a U.S. citizen. I want to be a Marine. I'm going to be a Marine because I care. I care about this country. I care about those around me. I care about my family, my neighbors. I do want to give back. I believe 100 percent in what this country stands for. Let me earn it, you know. Let me serve. I just want an opportunity. I just want a chance to show everyone out there that I am, you know, American, and that I will honorably serve this country wearing a Marine Corps uniform."
I hope Alejandro gets his dream. I also hope Mark Zuckerberg takes more of an interest in hiring American high-tech workers than in finding less expensive help overseas. Unfortunately, the same comprehensive reform bill that would take care of Alejandro would also take care of the Facebook billionaire.
So it's no coincidence that Zuckerberg, just this year, for this legislation, has become a check-writing political activist.