Major US tech players plan coalition to lobby for young Dreamers

20 Oct 2017

Protestor at a pro-Dreamers demonstration in New York. Image: Christopher Penier/Shutterstock

Nearly two dozen companies are planning to launch an initiative to protect young undocumented immigrants in the US.

Companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel and Uber are all listed on documentation received by Reuters that states firms are to join forces in a coalition, demanding legislation that would allow young undocumented immigrants to become permanent residents of the US.

The young immigrants are known as Dreamers, and their previously solid future in the country has been shaken following US president Donald Trump’s decision in September 2017 to end DACA. DACA – or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – was established by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. The scheme had allowed around 900,000 undocumented immigrants to receive work permits.

Recipients had to have been in the US before 2007 and had to have been 15 years old or younger when they arrived. If their permits expire on or before 5 March 2018, Dreamers could have applied for a second two-year permit before 5 October 2017 – those whose permits expire after 5 March will have to wait until a decision is reached by the US congress.

US tech industry backing undocumented immigrants

Back in the beginning of September, tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook of Apple were among the signatories of a group letter addressed to Trump, outlining their concerns about his plans to wind DACA up next year: “We call on President Trump to preserve the DACA programme. We call on Congress to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act, or legislation that provides these young people raised in our country the permanent solution they deserve.”

Tim Cook made a statement at the time of Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions’ decision, expressing dismay: “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.”

Decision could be reached by end of 2017

The new coalition will involve many of the firms that signed the September letter. The stakes are high for these firms – a sign-up form for the group stated that 72pc of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies are employers of DACA work permit recipients.

The actual outcome regarding the retention of DACA has been left for congress to decide, with action likely in December as a congressional spending bill must be passed to keep the US government open.

The Coalition for the American Dream is to lobby congress, with the goal of persuading officials to pass bipartisan rules that would allow those who received work permits under DACA to continue living their lives in the US.

Protestor at a pro-Dreamers demonstration in New York. Image: Christopher Penier/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects