Silicon Valley titans urge Trump to keep DACA

Hundreds of business executives from tech to health care to hospitality are calling upon President Trump to preserve an Obama-era program that allows children brought to the United States illegally to live and work without punishment.

The national coalition on Thursday petitioned Trump to rethink his plans to scrap the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as early as Friday.

Doing so would imperil the economy and jeopardize the futures of nearly 800,000 young people, known as “dreamers” — 97 percent of whom are in school or in the workforce, they wrote.

At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees, the letter said.

“Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy,” the executives wrote. “With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”

They have already submitted to extensive background checks. They pay income taxes. Without them, the economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions, the letter said.

The letter, organized by FWD.us and signed by leaders of Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and nearly 400 other companies, also urged Congress to pass legislation that would provide a permanent fix for the young undocumented immigrants.

Trump has signaled his willingness to eliminate the legal protection for these immigrants, but so far has not taken the steps to do so. He has both promised to end the deferred-action program on his first day of office — calling it an unconstitutional abuse of executive authority — as well as vowed to “show great heart” to “these incredible kids.”

If Trump ends the program, the young immigrants would no longer be able to obtain work permits and may be deported.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who co-founded FWD.us, wrote a separate post Thursday night urging the government to protect “dreamers.”

“These young people represent the future of our country and our economy,” Zuckerberg wrote.

At Microsoft, at least 27 employees are beneficiaries of DACA, said Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, in a blog post. They are software engineers, finance professionals, and retail and sales associates. Ending the program, he said, would be a “step backwards for our entire nation.”

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella wrote in his own post that “smart immigration can help our economic growth and global competitiveness” in addition to creating more jobs for Americans.   

Microsoft, Nadella said, “will always stand for diversity and economic opportunity for everyone.”

Silicon Valley leaders have grown accustomed to challenging Trump’s immigration policies, given the tech industries’ large reliance on immigrant and foreign workers. They have criticized his promise to crack down on H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers and opposed his ban on entry to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.

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