Leaders at tech giants are appalled at Trump’s decision to end DACA

6 Sep 2017

US president Donald Trump. Image: Joe Seer/Shutterstock

US president Donald Trump appears to be declaring war on Dreamers and the very qualities that made America great in the first place.

The CEOs of tech giants Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, IBM and Google, to name a few, have condemned the actions of US president Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration programme.

DACA is a five-year-old policy that allows children who arrived illegally in the US to remain without fear of immediate removal, and it also gives them the right to work legally.

‘America promises all its people the opportunity to achieve their dreams through hard work and perseverance’

The result leaves as many as 800,000 young adults, who have been educated in the US, open to deportation to origin countries they barely remember.

The decision by Trump and his attorney general Jeff Sessions appears to be political rather than practical, and Trump used the language of anti-immigration activists, claiming the decision was driven by concern for “the millions of Americans victimised by this unfair system”.

A sad day for America

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the decision strikes at the very qualities that made America – a nation of immigrants – a strong country.

“This is a sad day for our country,” Zuckerberg said. “The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. 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.

“The young people covered by DACA are our friends and neighbours. They contribute to our communities and to the economy. I’ve gotten to know some Dreamers over the past few years, and I’ve always been impressed by their strength and sense of purpose. They don’t deserve to live in fear.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his dismay in a memo and said that hundreds of Apple employees will be affected by the decision. “America promises all its people the opportunity to achieve their dreams through hard work and perseverance. At Apple, we’ve dedicated ourselves to creating products that empower those dreams. And, at our best, we aspire to be part of the promise that defines America.”

He continued: “DACA recognises that people who arrived in the United States as children should not be punished for being here illegally. It lets these Americans – who have successfully completed rigorous background investigations – go to school, earn a living, support their families, pay taxes and work toward achieving their dreams like the rest of us. They are called Dreamers and, regardless of where they were born, they deserve our respect as equals.”

Call for urgent action by Congress

President and chief legal counsel at Microsoft, Brad Smith, urged Congress to take action and defeat the decision, just like it defeated Trump’s efforts to remove Obamacare.

“For Microsoft, the first step is clear,” Smith said.

“The administration has given Congress six months to replace DACA with new legislation. We believe this means that Congress now needs to reprioritise the fall legislative calendar and move quickly with new legislation to protect these 800,000 Dreamers. This means that Congress should adopt legislation on DACA before it tries to adopt a tax reform bill. This is the only way, given the number of legislative days Congress has scheduled over the next six months, [that] we realistically can expect Congress to complete DACA legislation in time.”

‘Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages’

Smith added: “As this debate moves forward, we need to remember that these 800,000 individuals came to our nation as children. They grew up in this country. They attended our local schools and count millions of American citizens as friends. They obey our laws, pay taxes here and have registered voluntarily with the federal government for DACA relief. They are loyal to this country, and contribute their time and money to local churches, schools and community groups. The Dreamers are part of our nation’s fabric. They belong here.”

Former US president Barack Obama, under whose presidency DACA was unveiled, also called on Congress to take action.

“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

“It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And, now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel,” Obama said.

US president Donald Trump. Image: Joe Seer/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years