Big Tech slams Trump on plan to deport kids

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More than 300 business leaders including the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google have signed a letter slamming Donald Trump for his plan to remove legal protections from immigrant children born in the United States.

"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 begins.

It goes on to note that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – which President Trump is expected to end on Friday – covers 800,000 people in the US, more than 97 per cent of whom are in school or the workforce, and many of whom work for Fortune 500 companies.

"Our economy would lose $460.3bn from the national GDP and $24.6bn in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions" if the program is ended, the letter warns, before concluding, "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."

In addition to the letter, a number of companies have also posted their own opinions on why the program should be retained. Microsoft president Brad Smith penned a blog post warning that "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."

CEO Satya Nadella wrote on his LinkedIn page: "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."

Threats

President Trump is expected to shut down the program on Friday following a threat [PDF] by the attorneys general of 10 states that they will sue the federal government if it doesn't stop protecting those brought into the country illegally as children.

Those states successfully challenged that program and a subsequently expanded program put in place by the Obama Administration by arguing that the executive branch doesn't have the power to grant lawful presence and work authorization unilaterally.

The courts blocked the programs from going into effect, preventing four million people living illegally in the US from gaining official status. And in June, the head of homeland security rescinded the executive action creating the program.

That still left 800,000 children born in the United States to illegal immigrants protected however, and the attorneys general – led by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton – offered to dismiss their lawsuit if the White House killed off the original DACA memo before September 5. Due to the long weekend, that effectively gives President Trump until today to make a decision.

In addition to being caught between business leaders on one side and Republican attorneys general on the other, there are additional political considerations for Trump that have grown even greater following Hurricane Harvey and widespread damage in Texas and Houston in particular.

Pressures

Trump has already backed down from his threat to shut down the government if Congress doesn't fund his border wall with Mexico, after Republican lawmakers made it plain they are going to ask for billions in recovery for Texas following the storm.

The president could allow the deadline to pass and let the issue be decided by the courts, but having pushed such a strong stance on immigration during the presidential election campaign speeches, the failure to act will play badly with his political base. He could also ask for the deadline to be extended until events in Texas have been resolved.

Alternatively, Trump could do what many have been arguing for and grant an extension to the program to allow lawmakers to devise an alternative that retains many of those who have been living and working legitimately in the US for several years.

Back in February, Trump gave a very Trumpian explanation of the program from his perspective. "DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me," he said. "To me, it's one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids, in many cases not in all cases. In some of the cases they're having DACA and they're gang members and they're drug dealers too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids, I would say mostly." ®

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