Business and tech leaders gang up on Trump’s DACA move

President Donald Trump seeks to cease DACA program in US / Wikimedia

As expected, US President Donald Trump announced his intention to cease the Obama-era program that protected children of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA or the “Dreamers” program, gave around 800,000 people the chance to live, work and study in the US.

Former President Obama, who has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office, weighed in swiftly and at length on Facebook.

“To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love,” wrote Obama. “And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?”

For its part, industry in the US broadly condemned the plan even before it became official today. In signing a letter from fwd.us, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s political group, industry leaders raised their concern for the impending action last week.

CEO’s including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, General Motors’ Mary Barra, Google’s Sundar Pichai, HP’s Dion Weisler, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Snap’s Evan Spiegel joined hundreds of other senior leaders imploring the Trump administration to preserve the program.

“Our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions,” the letter, also sent to congressional leadership, noted.

Tech companies were the most vocal in providing direct assistance to employees who are part of the DACA program. In a blog post last week, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer Brad Smith noted that 39 people in the program were employed by the company and, if US Congress fails to act in the six-month window given by Trump to come up with a solution, they will take action on their own.

“We will work as needed with other companies and the broader business community to vigorously defend the legal rights of all Dreamers. For the 39 Dreamers that we know of who are our employees, our commitment is clear. If Congress fails to act, our company will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect our employees. If the government seeks to deport any one of them, we will provide and pay for their legal counsel. We will also file an amicus brief and explore whether we can directly intervene in any such case. In short, if Dreamers who are our employees are in court, we will be by their side,” read the post.

Nadella follows up Smith’s post with his own observations and experience on LinkedIn.

“I am a product of two uniquely American attributes: the ingenuity of American technology reaching me where I was growing up, fueling my dreams, and the enlightened immigration policy that allowed me to pursue my dreams,” he wrote. “There is no question in my mind that a priority must be to create more jobs and opportunity for every American citizen. On top of this, smart immigration can help our economic growth and global competitiveness.”

For his part, Cook noted that 250 Apple employees are part of the DACA program and that the company was prepared to provide assistance in a company email first published by MacRumors.

“I want to assure you that Apple will work with members of Congress from both parties to advocate for a legislative solution that provides permanent protections for all the Dreamers in our country,” he wrote. “We are also working closely with each of our co-workers to provide them and their families the support they need, including the advice of immigration experts.”

Cook added: “Despite this setback for our nation, I'm confident that American values will prevail and we will continue our tradition of welcoming immigrants from all nations. I'll do whatever I can to assure this outcome.”

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