Corporate America has fired a warning shot at President Donald Trump on immigration, telling the White House that moves threatening the legal status of 1m US immigrants are a danger to economic growth.
The message from Tom Donohue, head of the US Chamber of Commerce, underscored how business has quickly moved on from celebrations over tax reform and is preparing to step up its role as a voice of opposition to key parts of the Trump agenda.
Mr Donohue also doubled down on previous warnings to Mr Trump about trade, saying it would be a “grave mistake” to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and urging the US to pursue new trade deals rather than undo old ones.
In a speech setting out the priorities of the main business lobby group, Mr Donohue indicated that Mr Trump’s hardline policies on immigration are increasingly at odds with business. “The bottom line is that we can’t strengthen and sustain economic growth if we don’t expand and support our workforce.”
He decried several Trump administration moves, including an announcement this week that it would revoke the “temporary protected status” of nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living and working in the US legally since devastating earthquakes in 2001.
And he cited some 800,000 “Dreamers” brought to the US illegally as children who had been given protection from deportation by Barack Obama, a protection Mr Trump is preparing to eliminate.
Late on Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration could not phase out the programme, known as DACA, as long as legal challenges against the move were ongoing. Separately, immigration agents raided dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores on Wednesday and said employers should expect more such enforcement actions.
There would be “real upheaval” if 1m workers were taken out of the job market, Mr Donohue told a press conference. “I don’t think after all these years you tell everybody sayonara. It ain’t gonna happen.”
By Barney Jopson for FINANCIAL TIMES
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