Business backlash hits Trump’s DACA decision

Business backlash hits Trump’s DACA decision
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The Trump administration’s decision to halt a program for young people illegally brought to the United States as children was met with a furious backlash from the business community on Tuesday, with industry leaders quickly firing back.

Business leaders, corporations and universities lined up to condemn Trump’s phased-out termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era administrative program for people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

“The decision to end DACA is not just wrong,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post. “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.” 

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, on Tuesday wrote that he was “dismayed” by the administration’s decision, which he said would affect 250 of his company's employees. 

Ending DACA fulfills one of Trump’s top campaign promises on immigration.

In making his announcement on Tuesday, Trump urged Congress to pass legislation to address DACA recipients, saying he had no choice but to end an Obama-era program that he says illegally bypassed Congress.

“Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!,” he wrote in an early-morning tweet on Tuesday.

The program gives nearly 800,000 people protection from being deported and the ability to obtain work permits. The administration is providing a six-month window to wind it down, with no new applications accepted after Tuesday. 

In 2012, Obama instituted DACA by executive order after Congress declined to pass legislation that would have offered many of the same protections, known as the DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. Lawmakers had been trying to come to an agreement on various versions of the bill since 2001.

Business groups have for years pressed Congress to pass immigration reform legislation, arguing such a step would boost the economy and help fill gaps in the workforce. 

A Cato Institute study said that repealing DACA would result in billions in lost revenue to the government and economic output over the next decade.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business group, said the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA 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,” said Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s senior vice president and chief policy officer.

On Tuesday, the Chamber, the National Association of Manufacturers, Information Technology Industry Council, the Association of American Universities and the Business Roundtable, a trade group that represents the CEOs of top American companies, each released statements criticizing the administration’s decision.

Other big-name companies, including Google, Microsoft, the engine manufacturer Cummins, and Spanish-language media outlets Telemundo and Univision, also slammed Trump’s move.

Meanwhile, Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, announced that he would be leaving the President’s Diversity Council in protest of the decision on DACA. Palomarez said Trump had “deceived the American people,” and called the move “inhumane” and “economically harmful.”

With the administration’s path now set, business leaders are shifting their attention to Capitol Hill, hoping lawmakers can come through with some type of legislative solution, such as a revival of the DREAM Act. But success on that front remains highly uncertain, with conservatives pushing to prioritize border security. 

“Our immigration system is broken — of this there is little debate. Previous Congresses and administrations have missed many opportunities to fix the problem, and they have failed by inaction,”  Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, wrote in a blog post  Tuesday. “And that is exactly why DACA exists in the first place.”

Timmons, like many other executives, called on Congress to find a solution and pass “real reform.”

“The children and young people who have been protected by DACA know America as their only home, and the solution to our broken system is not sending them off to another country,” Timmons said. 

The technology industry, in particular, sought to dissuade Trump from rescinding DACA.

When reports surfaced last month about Trump’s plans, Microsoft and Uber released statements urging the president to reconsider. Business leaders from 300 companies including Facebook, Amazon and Apple followed up by signing a letter defending DACA.

Todd Schulte, president of Fwd.us, an immigration advocacy group founded by big firms and players in the technology industry, said Trump’s decision has put the onus on Congress to act.

“This is a countdown clock. 1,400 people a [business] day, who were protected by DACA will lose their jobs,” Schulte said referring to the findings of a study his organization published with the left-leaning Center For American Progress. “Before this though, 800,000 people will go to sleep wondering every night what their lives will be like over the next several months.”

Colleges and universities have also been very active on the issue, as the average DACA recipient is 22 years old.

Lobbying disclosures show that of the 57 entities that listed lobbying on DACA in 2017, 36 are in the education sector, including colleges and universities, teachers and even one local school district.

“American in every way except birthright, they are upstanding individuals who contribute to their communities and our nation,” said Mary Sue Coleman, president of Association of American Universities (AAU), in a statement.

“At a time when we face increasing global competition, we should be embracing these hard working and driven young people, many of whom are studying at AAU universities.”