Some of the biggest names in fashion, retail and technology are supporting legislation that would create a path to U.S. citizenship for young immigrants in the wake of the Trump administration’s rollback of a popular immigration program.
Leaders from two dozen companies, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s chief executive officer Doug McMillon, Amazon ceo Jeff Bezos, Target Corp. ceo Brian Cornell, Facebook founder and ceo Mark Zuckerberg and Google ceo Sundar Pichai signed a letter urging leading lawmakers to pass the Dream Act, or something similar, in order to protect young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.
Until recently, The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, put into effect in 2012 by President Obama, vetted young immigrants and provided about 800,000 with social security numbers, allowing them to pay taxes and seek employment, and protected them from deportation on a rolling two-year basis.
But President Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions early this month canceled the program, despite widespread opposition by businesses and the president’s previous claims that young immigrants, or “Dreamers” as they’ve become known, “should rest easy” when thinking of his position on immigration.
Now that the administration has decided to rescind DACA, corporate leaders are hoping that the Dream Act will find enough support in Congress and the Senate to create a “permanent legislative solution” for young immigrants that are all set to lose their legal residency by March.
“Roughly 800,000 DACA recipients will lose their ability to work and study legally, will be forced from their jobs and will be subject to immediate deportation,” the letter says. “Further, without congressional action, our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national gross domestic product and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions. Congressional action and a permanent legislative solution is the only path forward to prevent these devastating consequences. This is urgent and we only have a few months to act.”
The letter goes on to note that all DACA recipients, generally between 15 and 36 years old, have grown up in America and are paying income taxes, while 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, 16 percent have purchased a home and 5 percent have started their own businesses.
Other signatories to the Dream Act support letter include eBay president and ceo Devin Wenig, Etsy ceo Josh Silverman, Facebook chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg, Gap president and ceo Art Peck, as well as the brand’s cofounders Doris and Robert Fisher, Levi Strauss & Co. president and ceo Chip Bergh, MM LaFleur founder and ceo Sarah Miyazawa LaFleur, Stitch Fix founder and ceo Katrina Lake, Warby Parker cofounders and co-ceos Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa and Tiffany & Co. board director Michael J. Kowalski.
While the Dream Act has supporters among Democratic and Republican lawmakers, it’s been tossed around Washington for years.
A version of the act, officially the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, was introduced to Congress in 2001 and subsequently amended and reintroduced annually from 2009 to 2012. It has faced repeated filibusters and fallen short of the 60 Senate votes needed to be formally considered, leading Obama to enact DACA in 2012 through an executive order.
Neither Trump nor Sessions mentioned the purpose of DACA or what the program offers to participants or the country in their separate explanations for the rollback. Instead, they referred to the program as “executive amnesty” deployed by Obama through an executive order after he failed to get Congressional approval.
Since taking office in January, Trump has signed 45 executive orders on issues that didn’t have congressional approval. During his presidential tenure, Obama averaged 35 executive orders per year.
Since his campaign, Trump has tried to take a hardline on immigration and immigrants and in August, the White House put its support behind the Republican-developed RAISE Act, or Reforming America’s Immigration for String Employment Act. The act aims to cut legal immigration into the U.S. by half through a reduction in green-card issuances, while removing pathways for close relatives of citizens to apply for citizenship.
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