Technology companies’ vociferous support for the children of undocumented immigrants could set the industry up for its biggest showdown yet with President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.
Executives from Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc. were among the strongest in condemning Trump’s decision on Tuesday to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.Known as DACA, it lets children brought to the US as undocumented immigrants work, drive and enroll in college. The president gave Congress six months to pass laws to replace the program. If that doesn’t happen, it could open a new front in the intermittent flame war between the world’s most powerful tech companies and the US government.
“We’re going to fight alongside you to help this get resolved. Not just for the folks that are on DACA but for all dreamers and undocumented folks,” Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in a live-streamed conversation with three DACA grantees, known as dreamers. Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith urged Congress to prioritize finding a replacement for DACA and later told NPR that the government would have to “go through us” if it tried to deport dreamers employed by the company.
There’s also the fact that California – home to Silicon Valley – stands to lose the most from the demise of DACA. The state has around 200,000 employed dreamers, double the next-biggest concentration in Texas, according to the liberal think tank Center for American Progress. Those workers contribute an estimated $11.6 billion to California’s economy each year, the think tank estimates. There’s no guarantee that Congress will act though. The legislature has a busy fall calendar and some conservatives also oppose giving any ground on immigration.
If the program isn’t replaced, workers will eventually lose their right to work, putting them and their employers in legal limbo. Some fear that authorities could use the personal information applicants provided for work permits to find and deport them. Though Trump said that isn’t his intention, Vilchis, who came to the US from Mexico as a seven-year-old, isn’t so sure.