To Mark Zuckerberg: Amnesty is Not a Civil Rights Issue

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

December 4, 2013

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in a Sunday appearance on ABC News This Week, falsely and tediously compared illegal immigrants and their legalization demands to the 1960s civil rights movement. Zuckerberg is uninformed. His remarks display an ignorance of African-American history and a disregard for the sacrifices made by the era’s black leaders. Read the ABC transcript here.

Sadly, Zuckerberg is just one in the long history of immigration advocacy who has made the same misguided analogy. In 2006, Ted Kennedy told a cheering pro-immigration crowd: “This is reminiscent of the civil rights movement. It's equal in terms of intensity and feelings among the groups.”

Kennedy’s foolish statement drew immediate criticism, as valid today as it was then, from Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. Said Peterson:

Ted Kennedy should be ashamed for comparing the civil rights struggles of blacks to that of illegal aliens. Black Americans are being driven out of their jobs and schools by the influx of illegals – while politicians like Kennedy sell them out for Hispanic votes.

Just as Peterson called Kennedy to account seven years ago, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has challenged Zuckerberg. Saying that Zuckerberg’s comment is “disrespectful to our nation’s civil rights heroes,” Gosar dared Zuckerberg to “remove his rose-colored glasses and come tour the Arizona border with me.” [“Undocumented ‘Just Want to Work,’ Zuckerberg Claims,” by S.A. Miller, New York Post, November 24, 2013]

Zuckerman is unlikely to accept Gosar’s offer even though he would learn a lot about immigration realities if he did. As Gosar pointed out to Zuckerberg, the U.S. has laws, not “pathways,” that govern how to become a citizen. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services refers to the citizenship process as naturalization which begins with legal entry through an authorized port, and is followed by a five-year permanent residency period during which time the applicant will demonstrate good moral character and pass a civics test.

Having $19 billion makes Zuckerberg one of the richest Americans. But money doesn’t give him special insights into what sound immigration policy should be.

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