The CEOs of dozens of big-name US firms from Amazon to Apple and Facebook pressed President Donald Trump today to keep an amnesty for people brought to the United States illegally as children. In a letter to Trump and top Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the business leaders — who also included executives at Cisco, eBay, General Motors, Marriott and Microsoft — warned of the economic impact of forcing almost 800,000 people back into the legal shadows.
The White House reiterated that Trump has not yet decided whether to end the Obama-era programme that allowed children brought to the country illegally before they were 16 to get a two-year renewable work permit. The programme known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was instituted by then president Barack Obama in 2012 via executive order and could be repealed by Trump with the stroke of a pen.
Recipients of the programme “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,” the CEOs argued in the letter. These “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 USD 460.3 billion from the national GDP and USD 24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.
Trump had vowed to end the program and is under fierce pressure by anti-immigrant supporters to make good on that promise.
Fox News yesterday reported that Trump would stop issuing DACA permits and allow the existing ones to expire. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the policy was still under review. “A final decision on that front has not been made,” she said.
DACA recipients fear their legal status could lapse and authorities would be able to locate them easily for deportation. The policy has become tied up in a debate about congressional funding for Trump’s proposed wall on the border with Mexico.
Some in Congress have suggested a deal could be reached for the permit system to remain in place if Congress agrees to release funding for the wall.
White House officials offered differing views on when Trump may make a decision. Some said it could come this week and others said it would have to wait until after mega-storm Harvey subsides.
Texas alone has issued over 200,000 permits or renewals, according to the Department of Homeland Security.