Technology companies’ vociferous support for the children of undocumented immigrants could set the industry up for its biggest showdown yet with President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.
Executives from Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet were among the strongest in condemning Trump’s decision on Tuesday to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Known as DACA, it lets children brought to the US as undocumented immigrants work, drive and enrol in college.
The president gave Congress six months to pass laws to replace the programme. If that doesn’t happen, it could open a new front in the intermittent flame war between the world’s most powerful tech companies and the US government.
“We’re going to fight alongside you to help this get resolved. Not just for the folks that are on DACA but for all dreamers and undocumented folks,”
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a live-streamed conversation with three DACA grantees, known as dreamers.
Microsoft Chief legal officer Brad Smith urged Congress to prioritise finding a replacement for DACA and later told NPR that the government would have to “go through us” if it tried to deport dreamers employed by the company.
“To know directly from the CEOs that they’re the ones saying they support it and why they feel it’s important, that’s never happened before — not to the extent that it’s happening now,” said Elizabeth Vilchis, a dreamer who works at Samsung’s NEXT startup investment unit. Samsung declined to comment.
Ms Vilchis said she and other dreamers expect the most-powerful tech companies to follow their words with actions, such as suing the government or giving affected employees the option to keep their jobs but transfer to other countries. She’s doubtful six months is enough time for a meaningful replacement to be enacted by Congress and is preparing for the worst.
Ava Benach, an immigration lawyer based in Washington, said tech has been the most vocal critic of Trump’s move to come from the broader business world. She attributes Silicon Valley’s aggressiveness to a desire to stay in line with customers, a contrast to other immigration priorities, like the H-1B visa program, that impact large proportions of their workforce.
By Joshua Brustein for INDEPENDENT
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