On Twitter, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that the Silicon Valley giant employs illegal immigrants in the persons of so-called “Dreamers” who benefit from the Obama administration executive action known as Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He wrote: ”250 of my Apple coworkers are #Dreamers. I stand with them. They deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values."

Cook’s remarks came just days after hundreds of business executives from Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and others called upon President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan to preserve DACA, which allows illegal immigrants who entered the US as children to live and work without punishment. On Thursday, the coalition claimed in a letter to Trump that eliminating DACA would directly affect their bottom-lines and the futures of nearly 800,000 young people. They claim that 97 percent of them are working or in school.

According to the letter, approximately 72 percent of the top 25 of the Fortune 500 companies have employees benefiting from DACA. “Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy,” the executives wrote. “With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.” The executives’ letter claims that government would lose the income tax that DACA recipients pay, while the national economy would ostensibly lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions. David Bier -- an analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute -- indicated that if DACA is rescinded, employers would have fire DACA recipients and thus incur a hefty cost.

The Cato Institute analyst claimed that such employers would see a cost of $6.3 billion, because of worker turnover. Companies employing DACA recipients would have to dismiss about 7,000 employees per week for the next two years, at a cost of $61 million as week for recruiting, hiring, and training 720,000 new hires among American citizens and legal alien residents.

Among the signatories of the executive were Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, investor Warren Buffett, Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and The Washington Post, and Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard. Other companies signing on were Crate and Barrel and General Motors. Microsoft employees at least 27 employees are beneficiaries of DACA, wrote Microsoft president Brad Smith in a blog post. Ending DACA, he wrote, would be a “step backwards for our entire nation.”

Silicon Valley executives have also criticized Trump’s promise to crack down on H-1B visas for highly-skilled foreign workers. They also opposed his ban on entry to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.

ditya Agarwal, the newly promoted chief technology officer of Dropbox, the cloud storage company, will vote in his first U.S. election on Nov. 8. Though he’s worked for U.S. tech companies for years, it hasn’t been easy to stay abreast of the paperwork he needed to get visas and become a citizen.

“Over the course of being in the United States for the last 16 years, I have had an F-1 [student] visa, an OPT, a CPT,” he said. “I’ve had, like, four H-1Bs [a visa used for high-skilled workers, often in the technology industry]. I’ve had, like, a green-card process that took like five or six years. I’ve gone through the citizenship process.”

The process is “deeply personal for me,” he said, speaking as a newly minted American citizen about to cast a ballot, “so I’m really excited about it.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Agarwal is one of 1.8 million people nationwide employed in “computer systems design and related services,” out of 17 million employed in high-tech industries. It’s difficult to track this group’s voting behavior1, but looking at campaign donations, endorsements and other political speech offers a way to understand the political impact of this key demographic. The tech industry’s role in disseminating political information through the internet gives it an outsize voice in the process; last week, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook debated whether to remove some Trump posts as hate speech.

Data compiled by Crowdpac, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign donations, shows that employees at technology companies are donating overwhelmingly to Hillary Clinton. Of the $8.1 million given by tech employees or executives, Clinton got 95 percent, or $7.7 million; Donald Trump got 4 percent, or $299,000; Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, each got less than 1 percent.

The letter from the executives follows:

August 31, 2017
To: President Donald J. Trump
To: Speaker Paul Ryan; Leader Nancy Pelosi; Leader Mitch McConnell; and Leader Charles E. Schumer
 
As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we are concerned about new developments in immigration policy that threaten the future of young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows nearly 800,000 Dreamers the basic opportunity to work and study without the threat of deportation, is in jeopardy. All DACA recipients 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.

More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees.

Unless we act now to preserve the DACA program, all 780,000 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 $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.

Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy. With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.

We call on President Trump to preserve the DACA program. 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.

 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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