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Business leaders fight to preserve DACA, protect ‘Dreamers’

Joe Mont | September 6, 2017

Business leaders across the nation are vigorously protesting the seeming end of a federal program that granted amnesty to a class of immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

On Sept. 5, President Trump, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke officially rescinded the program, but provided for a six-month grace period. During the delay, Congress will have the opportunity, should it so choose, to legislatively restore or modify the program.

The program, created in a 2012 executive order by former President Barack Obama, protected the children of illegal immigrants from deportation and allowed then to hold jobs in the U.S. without the fear of immigration enforcement, provided certain criterial was mat and they had no criminal record. Nearly 800,000 immigrants have been granted DACA status.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is among the business groups protesting the demise of the DACA program.

“The original DACA program announced in 2012 was premised on sound public policy, and unlike DAPA, it was not challenged in court. Individuals enrolled in good faith and became ingrained in our communities and the nation’s economy,” Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said in a statement. “To reverse course now and deport these individuals is contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country.”

“With approximately 700,000 DACA recipients working for all sorts of businesses across the country, terminating their employment eligibility runs contrary to the president’s goal of growing the U.S. economy,” he added. “We ask that the administration and the Congress work together to quickly find a legislative solution before the program expires.”

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, called the Trump Administration’s decision, “a sad day for our country.”

“The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.,” he wrote.

“The young people covered by DACA are our friends and neighbors. They contribute to our communities and to the economy,” he added. “I've gotten to know some Dreamers over the past few years, and I've always been impressed by their strength and sense of purpose. They don't deserve to live in fear.”

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wrote that “dreamers contribute to our companies and our communities just as much as you and I.”

“Apple will fight for them to be treated as equals,” he added, noting that roughly 250 Apple employees enjoy DACA’s protections. “I stand with them. They deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values.”

Nearly 400 company executives urged the Trump administration and Congress to maintain DACA in an Aug. 31 letter, prior to the administration’s announcement.

“As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we are concerned about new developments in immigration policy that threaten the future of young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children,” the letter says.

It adds: “More than 97 percent of dreamers are in school or in the workforce, five percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees.”

“Unless we act now to preserve the DACA program, all 780,000 hardworking young people will lose their ability to work legally in this country, and every one of them will be at immediate risk of deportation,” the letter says. “Our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions. Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy. With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”

Among those signing the letter were CEOs of Adobe Systems, Airbnb, Amazon, Ancestry.com, Apple, AT&T, Best Buy, Bigelow Tea, Box, Brocade Communications Systems, Casper, Cisco Systems, Dropbox, eBay, Etsy, Exelon, Gap, General Motors, Google, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Hilton, HP, Hyatt Hotels, IKEA, Intuit, Levi Strauss & Co., Marriott International, Netflix, Pandora Media, PayPal Holdings, Reddit, Salesforce, Snap, Starbucks, Twitter, Uber, Univision, Viacom, Visa, Warby Parker, Wells Fargo, and Western Union.

 “America is and always has been a country of immigrants. We should do everything in our power to continue to attract the best and brightest because they make us stronger as a people and as an economy,” Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and chairman of Business Roundtable said in a statement. “And, when people come here to learn, work hard and give back to their communities, we should allow them to stay in the United States.”

 “The Business Roundtable strongly opposes a termination of DACA without a viable replacement in place,” said Business Roundtable President and CEO Joshua Bolten. “We urge Congress and the President to work together to enact a legislative solution before this deadline expires. Failure to act would have a significant negative impact on businesses that rely on employees who are here and working lawfully. Business leaders count on those employees to contribute to our enterprises, generate economic growth and create more jobs for Americans. The challenge in finding a solution for those covered temporarily by the DACA program is further evidence of the importance of working together to improve our system.”

“America’s immigration system is broken,” he added. “The Business Roundtable supports solutions that better secure U.S. borders, provide consistent enforcement of laws and encourage immigrants to come to the United States legally, work hard and contribute to America. Congressional leaders should develop a legislative solution that ensures our system is secure and fair, while also meeting America’s economic needs.”

Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer for Microsoft, wrote that “DACA legislation is both an economic imperative and humanitarian necessity.”

“Congress now needs to reprioritize the fall legislative calendar and move quickly with new legislation to protect these 800,000 Dreamers. This means that Congress should adopt legislation on DACA before it tries to adopt a tax reform bill,” he wrote in a blog post. “This is the only way, given the number of legislative days Congress has scheduled over the next six months, we realistically can expect Congress to complete DACA legislation in time.”

“We say this even though Microsoft, like many other companies, cares greatly about modernizing the tax system and making it fairer and more competitive,” he added. “But we need to put the humanitarian needs of these 800,000 people on the legislative calendar before a tax bill. As an employer, we appreciate that Dreamers add to the competitiveness and economic success of our company and the entire nation’s business community. In short, urgent DACA legislation is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.”

“We will work as needed with other companies and the broader business community to vigorously defend the legal rights of all Dreamers,” Smith wrote. “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.”