Tech titans of industry have shown solidarity for people affected by the impending repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by US President Donald Trump. The move has drawn much criticism from the movers and shakers of business.
Signatories to the open letter to Trump that was circulated by FWD.us – an organization that seeks to mobilize technology firms supporting immigration reform — include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg,Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green, and Uber Chief Technology Officer Thuan Pham. Companies that were not among the signatories to the letter also conveyed their own messages, urging the Trump Administration to keep the DACA program intact.
Recent developments in the present US Administration’s immigration policy have created much concern among entrepreneurs and business leaders. Beyond mouthing platitudes and making political statements, the tech leaders denounce the utter disregard for, and threat posed to, the future of undocumented immigrants brought to America as children.
Silicon Valley captains of industry speak out
Uber’s Thuan Pham, who was a refugee to the US (fleeing Vietnam in harrowing and life-threatening conditions) has been among the business leaders who have made their voices heard following the Trump Administration’s efforts to kill DACA. He had stated in interviews and in the Uber newsroom that immigrants risk their lives for a chance at freedom and opportunity.
Uber’s recently installed CEO Dara Khosrowshahi had also tweeted that turning one’s back on Dreamers goes against values. He added that everyone ought to be given the chance to work, study and contribute.
Many other high-profile CEOs are standing up for Dreamers and are opposing the rescinding of DACA. They include Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Hewlett CEO Meg Whitman, Box CEO Aaron Levie, and several others.
Leveraging Social Media
Zuckerberg has been tirelessly posting messages in his social networking site to condemn what he referred to as one of the most troubling things he had seen happening in the country – to take away the American Dream offered to people, and to punish them for trusting their government.
It can be noted that the Facebook CEO has been critical of Donald Trump’s pronouncements in the past. When the repeal of DACA became apparent, Zuckerberg took his strongest political stance. The decision to end DACA, he maintained, is not just wrong, but cruel. He opined that Dreamers simply want, and deserve the chance, to serve the country and community.
Recently, Zuckerberg posted that he had converged Dreamers at his home to discuss DACA and immigration. Thousands joined in the online discussion. Seasoned media and technology executive David Cooperstein commented that Zuckerberg ought to keep up the energetic focus, adding that there is so much that leaders need to come together for and fix.
DACA had allowed an estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants or “Dreamers” — who arrived in the US as children — to live, work and study in that part of the world without fear of deportation. Those Dreamers had registered with the federal government to get work permits.
Zuckerberg enjoined his social media followers to have a sense of urgency and join hands in petitioning Congress to take action.Trump’s repeal of DACA has met strong opposition not only from Zuckerberg but also from other big corporate leaders.
Microsoft’s Brad Smith called the Trump Administration’s plans to rescind DACA as a big step back for the US. He hastened to add that if the US government will proceed to deport any of its 39 employees covered by the protection, the company will provide support and pay for their legal counsel. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a LinkedIn piece that Microsoft cares deeply about its own Dreamers, and expressed that the company upholds diversity and economic opportunity for all.
Chaos and Discord
A few months ago, protests and chaos surfaced from Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. The temporary banning of immigrants from seven countries disrupted travel for hundreds of people. Technology giants criticized the move as “un-American” and announced that they will do what they could to ease the negative impact.
Apple CEO Tim Cook even sent a missive to employees, underscoring that the company he represented would cease to exist without immigration. It made reference to the Syrian heritage of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Recently, Cook tweeted that 250 of his Apple co-workers are Dreamers who deserve respect as equals.
Indeed, tech leaders have taken a near-unanimous stand upholding the preservation of DACA for the sake of the American economy. Ending the program would entail an economic loss of about $460.3 billion from the national GDP, plus $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.
“Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy,” a portion of the open letter also stated. Dreamers, the letter continued, are the reason companies “grow and create jobs” and are part and parcel of how companies can retain a global competitive advantage.
The letter also implored Congress to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act. Democrats have urged congressional leaders to bring the DREAM Act – that would grant permanent legal status to young undocumented immigrants — to the floor of the House and Senate for a September vote.
Vacillating Chief Executive
Trump had vacillated on the DACA program. During the election campaign, he vowed to immediately rescind the Obama administration policy. Upon assuming office, he expressed sympathy for the “Dreamers” covered by DACA, stating that he had to make a very hard decision. At some point, Trump also expressed that he would treat the issue with heart.
It is but one of the issues where Trump had wavered.In other news, Trump was also severely criticized by technology firms (that included transportation network companies Lyft and Uber) for his recent remarks about white supremacists in Charlottesville. On the issue on DACA, observers have noted that a decision may be imminent. Trump supporters state that the rule of law must prevail. Under DACA, permits are granted for two years before requiring renewal. If renewals were ended, thousands would lose their protection, and it would not augur well for the US economy. President Obama put DACA into effect back in 2012.