Last Updated Sep 5, 2017 2:00 PM EDT
President Donald Trump has decided he will, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that offers undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children a chance to work and study without fear of deportation. And the tech industry is not pleased.
Despite DACA's popularity — since its inception in 2012, about 800,000 people have signed up — a group of state attorneys general threatened to challenge the program if Trump didn't rescind it by Sept. 5. On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration's plans to end it over a six-month period.
Now tech industry leaders are joining members of Congress in criticizing Mr. Trump's decision.
Tech CEOs have been increasingly flexing their political muscle in recent years, speaking out on everything from gay rights to early childhood vaccinations. Since Mr. Trump was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, many have been speaking out against him.
First, they opposed his controversial travel ban, and again when it was revised. They also blasted the Trump administration's ban on transgender troops, announced in July. And a number of tech CEOs resigned from presidential advisory councils over Trump's handling of the rally of white supremacists, klansmen and Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Now tech executives are banding together again to speak out for "Dreamers." Here's what they had to say:
A collection of tech's biggest names, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Uber CTO Thuan Pham and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and more than 300 others, signed a group letter to Trump, as well as leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
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 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows nearly 800,000 Dreamers the basic opportunity to work and study without the threat of deportation, is in jeopardy. All DACA recipients grew up in America, registered with our government, submitted to extensive background checks, and are diligently giving back to our communities and paying income taxes. More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 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. 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.
We call on President Trump to preserve the DACA program. We call on Congress to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act or legislation that provides these young people raised in our country the permanent solution they deserve.
FWD.us is a political action group started four years ago by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to push for immigration reform.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who moved to the U.S. from India three decades ago, took to (where else?) recently purchased LinkedIn to publish his statement.
For me, it comes back to two things: the enduring principles and values that have made the United States what it is, and my own personal story.
As I shared at the White House in June, 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.
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.
As a CEO, I see each day the direct contributions that talented employees from around the world bring to our company, our customers and to the broader economy. We care deeply about the DREAMers who work at Microsoft and fully support them. We will always stand for diversity and economic opportunity for everyone. It is core to who we are at Microsoft and I believe it is core to what America is.
This is the America that I know and of which I am a proud citizen. This is the America that I love and that my family and I call home. And this is the America that I will always advocate for.
Brad Smith, the company's president and chief legal officer, also penned a blog post arguing that rescinding DACA would "not only negatively impact thousands of hardworking people across the United States, but will be a step backwards for our entire nation."
We are deeply concerned by news reports about changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that are under consideration. These changes would not only negatively impact thousands of hardworking people across the United States, but will be a step backwards for our entire nation.
Let me explain why.
The roughly 800,000 "DREAMers" who are registered beneficiaries of DACA were brought to this country as young children. Although undocumented, these young people grew up in the United States, attended our schools, built careers and started businesses, bought houses, started families and became part of our communities. The DACA program did not grant them a permanent immigration status — it only provided a temporary reprieve from deportation, requiring renewal every two years. But it provided work authorization, allowing them to integrate as contributing members into our nation's workforce and society.
Ending DACA will drastically disrupt the lives of these individuals who willingly came forward to register with the federal government. They could lose their jobs and risk deportation. This repeal will also have significant economic consequences. Studies estimate that ending the program could cost the American economy $460.3 billion in GDP (gross domestic product) and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributionsover the course of a decade.
Our country will also lose the tremendous talent of these individuals. DACA recipients bring a wide array of educational and professional backgrounds that enable them to contribute in crucial ways to our nation's workforce. They are part of our nation's universities and work in every major industry. They are artists, advocates and health care providers. They help meet the needs of our communities and our companies.
We experience this in a very real way at Microsoft. Today we know of 27 employees who are beneficiaries of DACA. They are software engineers with top technical skills; finance professionals driving our business ambitions forward; and retail and sales associates connecting customers to our technologies. Each of them is actively participating in our collective mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. They are not only our colleagues, but our friends, our neighbors and valued members of the Microsoft community.
These employees, along with other DREAMers, should continue to have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to our country's strength and prosperity. Instead of ending DACA, our policymakers and legislators should enact the DREAM Act or other permanent solution for DREAMers — a goal that continues to have bipartisan support.
Our country has always been a beacon of opportunity. If we are determined to preserve American leadership and excellence, let's build lasting solutions that extend dignity and opportunity while promoting our country's economic prosperity.
Cook said in a tweet that 250 "Dreamers" work at the consumer electronics giant. He urged a solution "rooted in American values."
Following the announcement of Trump's decision, Cook sent a letter to Apple's employees saying he is "deeply dismayed" that "Dreamers," including those who work at Apple, may be "cast out of the only country they've ever called home."
America promises all its people the opportunity to achieve their dreams through hard work and perseverance. At Apple, we've dedicated ourselves to creating products that empower those dreams. And at our best, we aspire to be part of the promise that defines America.
Earlier today, the Justice Department announced that President Trump will cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months if Congress does not act to make the program permanent.
I am deeply dismayed that 800,000 Americans — including more than 250 of our Apple coworkers — may soon find themselves cast out of the only country they've ever called home.
DACA recognizes that people who arrived in the United States as children should not be punished for being here illegally. It lets these Americans, who have successfully completed rigorous background investigations, go to school, earn a living, support their families, pay taxes and work toward achieving their dreams like the rest of us. They are called Dreamers, and regardless of where they were born, they deserve our respect as equals.
I've received several notes over the weekend from Dreamers within Apple. Some told me they came to the U.S. as young as two years old, while others recounted they don't even remember a time they were not in this country.
Dreamers who work at Apple may have been born in Canada or Mexico, Kenya or Mongolia, but America is the only home they've ever known. They grew up in our cities and towns, and hold degrees from colleges across the country. They now work for Apple in 28 states.
They help customers in our retail stores. They engineer the products people love and they're building Apple's future as part of our R&D teams. They contribute to our company, our economy and our communities just as much as you and I do. Their dreams are our dreams.
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.
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.
On behalf of the hundreds of employees at Apple whose futures are at stake; on behalf of their colleagues and on behalf of the millions more across America who believe, as we do, in the power of dreams, we issue an urgent plea for our leaders in Washington to protect the Dreamers so their futures can never be put at risk in this way again.
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.
The world's largest social network has been the center of a lot of political fights lately, but that hasn't stopped Zuckerberg from speaking out. "These young people represent the future of our country and our economy," he wrote. "They are our friends and family, students and young leaders in our communities."
Following Tuesday's announcement, Zuckerberg expressed his frustration, calling the decision "cruel."
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's outspoken COO who often lobbies on behalf of diversity and women's rights, penned a Facebook post criticizing Trump's administration by name, adding that she is "heartbroken and deeply concerned."
We believe that the young people who would benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deserve the opportunity to take their full and rightful place in the U.S. The possible changes to the DACA that were recently reported would remove all benefits and force people out of the U.S. - that is simply unacceptable.
Removing DREAMers from classrooms, universities, internships and workforces threaten to put the very innovation that fuels our technology sector at risk. Just as we said with previous Executive Orders on Immigration, the freedom for ideas and innovation to flow across borders is something we strongly believe in as a tech company. More importantly it is something we know is necessary to fulfill our mission to protect and advance the internet as a global public resource that is open and accessible to all.
We can't allow talent to be pushed out or forced into hiding. We also shouldn't stand by and allow families to be torn apart. More importantly, as employers, industry leaders and Americans -- we have a moral obligation to protect these children from ill-willed policies and practices. Our future depends on it.
We want DREAMers to continue contributing to this country's future and we do not want people to live in fear. We urge the Administration to keep the DACA program intact. At the same time, we urge leaders in government to enact a bipartisan permanent solution, one that will allow these bright minds to prosper in the country we know and love.
The tech industry lobbying group's President and CEO Linda More put out a statement shortly after Trump's decision was made public.
Ending DACA will be highly disruptive to the U.S. economy because of the impact on many young people currently working with legal work permits they acquired because of this program. Whether you agree with DACA or not, ending it without anything to replace it creates unnecessary uncertainty for our economy and for almost 800,000 young people in this country who have passed background checks, paid fees, and are contributing to our economy, pursuing their studies, or even serving in our military.
There is a broad and bipartisan consensus that we should not punish children for the actions of their parents. Leaders in both parties have long talked about finding a legislative solution to resolve this situation but have allowed policy disagreements and politics to lead to gridlock. The President's action now makes it an urgent priority for Congress to turn its sympathy for these young people into a law that ends the uncertainty they face.
This article originally appeared on CNET.