Politics

Apple, Google, Facebook and more speak out on DACA

Silicon Valley once again is speaking out against President Donald Trump, this time over his plan to end the popular but controversial "Dreamers" program.

Immigration Activists Rally In Support Of The Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Plan

Hundreds of immigration advocates and supporters attend a rally and march to Trump Tower in support of DACA Wednesday.

Getty Images

President Donald Trump has decided he will end DACA, a controversial Obama-era immigration program that offers undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children a chance to work and study without fear of deportation. And the tech industry is not pleased.

Despite DACA's popularity -- since its inception in 2012, about 800,000 people had signed up -- a group of state attorneys general threatened to challenge the program if Trump didn't rescind it himself by Sept. 5. On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be rescinded.

Now tech industry leaders are joining members of Congress in criticizing Trump's decision.

Tech executives weren't the only ones speaking out against Trump of course. Both Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden spoke out about the decision as well.

This is just the latest move by tech leaders who have been increasingly flexing their political muscle in recent years, speaking out on everything from gay rights to early childhood vaccinations. Since Trump was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, they've been speaking out against him. 

First, they opposed his controversial travel ban, and again when it was revised. They also rejected Trump's ban on transgender troops, announced in July. And a number of tech CEOs resigned from presidential advisory councils over Trump's handling of the rally of white supremacists, klansmen and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Now tech executives are banding together again to speak out for "Dreamers," a nickname for DACA recipients. Here's what they had to say:

FWD.us 

A collection of tech's biggest names -- including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Uber CTO Thuan Pham, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and more than 300 others -- signed a group letter to Trump, as well as leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate. It was sent last week, when rumors began circulating Trump planned to end the program.

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.

FWD.us is a political action group started four years ago by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to push for immigration reform.

Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who moved to the US from India three decades ago, took to (where else?) recently purchased LinkedIn to publish his statement last week as well.

For me, it comes back to two things: the enduring principles and values that have made the United States what it is, and my own personal story.

As I shared at the White House in June, I am a product of two uniquely American attributes: the ingenuity of American technology reaching me where I was growing up, fueling my dreams, and the enlightened immigration policy that allowed me to pursue my dreams.

There is no question in my mind that a priority must be to create more jobs and opportunity for every American citizen. On top of this, smart immigration can help our economic growth and global competitiveness.  

As a CEO, I see each day the direct contributions that talented employees from around the world bring to our company, our customers and to the broader economy. We care deeply about the DREAMers who work at Microsoft and fully support them. We will always stand for diversity and economic opportunity for everyone. It is core to who we are at Microsoft and I believe it is core to what America is.

This is the America that I know and of which I am a proud citizen. This is the America that I love and that my family and I call home. And this is the America that I will always advocate for.

Brad Smith, the company's president and chief legal officer, also penned a blog post arguing that rescinding DACA would "not only negatively impact thousands of hardworking people across the United States, but will be a step backwards for our entire nation."

We are deeply concerned by news reports about changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that are under consideration. These changes would not only negatively impact thousands of hardworking people across the United States, but will be a step backwards for our entire nation.

Let me explain why.

The roughly 800,000 "DREAMers" who are registered beneficiaries of DACA were brought to this country as young children. Although undocumented, these young people grew up in the United States, attended our schools, built careers and started businesses, bought houses, started families and became part of our communities. The DACA program did not grant them a permanent immigration status — it only provided a temporary reprieve from deportation, requiring renewal every two years. But it provided work authorization, allowing them to integrate as contributing members into our nation's workforce and society.

Ending DACA will drastically disrupt the lives of these individuals who willingly came forward to register with the federal government. They could lose their jobs and risk deportation. This repeal will also have significant economic consequences. Studies estimate that ending the program could cost the American economy $460.3 billion in GDP (gross domestic product) and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions over the course of a decade.

Our country will also lose the tremendous talent of these individuals. DACA recipients bring a wide array of educational and professional backgrounds that enable them to contribute in crucial ways to our nation's workforce. They are part of our nation's universities and work in every major industry. They are artists, advocates and health care providers. They help meet the needs of our communities and our companies.

We experience this in a very real way at Microsoft. Today we know of 27 employees who are beneficiaries of DACA. They are software engineers with top technical skills; finance professionals driving our business ambitions forward; and retail and sales associates connecting customers to our technologies. Each of them is actively participating in our collective mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. They are not only our colleagues, but our friends, our neighbors and valued members of the Microsoft community.

These employees, along with other DREAMers, should continue to have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to our country's strength and prosperity. Instead of ending DACA, our policymakers and legislators should enact the DREAM Act or other permanent solution for DREAMers — a goal that continues to have bipartisan support.

Our country has always been a beacon of opportunity. If we are determined to preserve American leadership and excellence, let's build lasting solutions that extend dignity and opportunity while promoting our country's economic prosperity.

Following the announcement Tuesday, Smith put out a new statement.

We are deeply disappointed by the administration's decision today to rescind protection under the program for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As we said last week, we believe this is a big step back for our entire country.

The question for individuals, employers and the country is what we do now.

For Microsoft, the first step is clear. The administration has given Congress six months to replace DACA with new legislation. We believe this means that Congress now needs to reprioritize 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, we realistically can expect Congress to complete DACA legislation in time.

We say this even though Microsoft, like many other companies, cares greatly about modernizing the tax system and making it fairer and more competitive. But we need to put the humanitarian needs of these 800,000 people on the legislative calendar before a tax bill. As an employer, we appreciate that Dreamers add to the competitiveness and economic success of our company and the entire nation's business community. In short, urgent DACA legislation is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.

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.

That's why we believe a second point is also fundamental. Although we should all ask Congress to act within six months, we should be prepared for the possibility that it will not do so. Such a failure would not relieve anyone else in the country of the responsibility to act thoughtfully and wisely.

This is why we will work as needed with other companies and the broader business community to vigorously defend the legal rights of all Dreamers. For the 39 Dreamers that we know of who are our employees, our commitment is clear. If Congress fails to act, our company will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect our employees. If the government seeks to deport any one of them, we will provide and pay for their legal counsel. We will also file an amicus brief and explore whether we can directly intervene in any such case. In short, if Dreamers who are our employees are in court, we will be by their side.

We appreciate that even limited immigration legislation like DACA is complex, controversial and even difficult. We also appreciate that this issue arises at a time of other important national priorities and sharp divisions within Congress. But when it comes to DACA, there are too many affected people who contribute too much to our country for Congress to fall short. There are leaders on both sides of the aisle who have long championed this issue. And there is a growing list of supporters from across the country who want to see this get done. We're confident that Microsoft is but one of many companies and groups that will support them.

Apple

Cook said in a tweet that 250 Dreamers work at the consumer electronics giant. He also urged a solution "rooted in American values."

Following the announcement of Trump's decision, Cook sent a letter to Apple's employees saying he is "deeply dismayed" that Dreamers, including at Apple, may be "cast out of the only country they've ever called home."

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. 

Earlier today, the Justice Department announced that President Trump will cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months if Congress does not act to make the program permanent. 

I am deeply dismayed that 800,000 Americans — including more than 250 of our Apple coworkers — may soon find themselves cast out of the only country they've ever called home. 

DACA recognizes 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. 

I've received several notes over the weekend from Dreamers within Apple.  Some told me they came to the U.S. as young as two years old, while others recounted they don't even remember a time they were not in this country. 

Dreamers who work at Apple may have been born in Canada or Mexico, Kenya or Mongolia, but America is the only home they've ever known. They grew up in our cities and towns, and hold degrees from colleges across the country. They now work for Apple in 28 states. 

They help customers in our retail stores. They engineer the products people love and they're building Apple's future as part of our R&D teams. They contribute to our company, our economy and our communities just as much as you and I do. Their dreams are our dreams. 

I want to assure you that Apple will work with members of Congress from both parties to advocate for a legislative solution that provides permanent protections for all the Dreamers in our country. 

We are also working closely with each of our co-workers to provide them and their families the support they need, including the advice of immigration experts. 

On behalf of the hundreds of employees at Apple whose futures are at stake; on behalf of their colleagues and on behalf of the millions more across America who believe, as we do, in the power of dreams, we issue an urgent plea for our leaders in Washington to protect the Dreamers so their futures can never be put at risk in this way again. 

Despite this setback for our nation, I'm confident that American values will prevail and we will continue our tradition of welcoming immigrants from all nations. I'll do whatever I can to assure this outcome. 

Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, also spoke out.

Facebook

The world's largest social network has been at the center of a lot of political fights lately, but that hasn't stopped Zuckerberg from speaking out. "These young people represent the future of our country and our economy," he wrote. "They are our friends and family, students and young leaders in our communities."

I stand with the Dreamers -- the young people brought to our country by their parents. Many have lived here as long as...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, August 31, 2017

Following Tuesday's announcement, Zuckerberg expressed his frustration, calling the decision "cruel."

This is a sad day for our country. The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's outspoken COO who often lobbies on behalf of diversity and women's rights, penned a Facebook post criticizing Trump's administration by name, adding that she is "heartbroken and deeply concerned."

I'm heartbroken and deeply concerned that President Trump’s administration has decided to end the Deferred Action for...

Posted by Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Google

The internet giant's CEO, Sundar Pichai, himself an immigrant from India, pushed congress to act.

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and now executive chairman of Alphabet, also spoke out.

YouTube head Susan Wojcicki also spoke out:

Twitter

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and payments company Square who had not attended Trump's meeting with tech executives in December, called Trump's decision "cruel."

Uber

The ride-hailing company's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, himself an Iranian immigrant, spoke out on Twitter after then announcement.

Uber's CTO Thuan Pham, who also signed the FWD.us letter, published a blog post after the announcement.

When I was 10 years old, I left Vietnam with my mother and younger brother, crammed with 470 other people without life jackets onto an old fishing boat to Malaysia. It was a perilous and terrifying four-day journey—with major storms threatening to sink us, and pirates with guns and knives who robbed us and could kill us as well. We were the lucky ones who survived the 50% odds of that sea crossing. When we arrived in Malaysia, we were rejected as refugees and had to turn around and take another several days to reach Indonesia with our boat. When we reached the US as refugees, we had to start our lives over with empty hands, but it was the hope and promise of the American Dream that kept us going.

Immigrants often risk their lives for a chance at freedom and opportunity, and our country remains the world's beacon of freedom and opportunity. Immigrants have built and contributed to America since its very beginning, and are at the center of our social fabric and economic prosperity. My heart breaks to see so many people who are in the same situation today that I was in many years ago.

Today, the Trump Administration announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gave children of illegal immigrants the chance to stay in the US and contribute to their communities and the economy. I was proud to sign the FWD.us letter on behalf of Uber urging President Trump to preserve the program.

Our community has always been about what brings people of every background together. We'll continue to stand by immigrants who want nothing more than to contribute to our country and pursue the American Dream.

Lyft

The ride-hailing company's co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green, who's also its CEO, tweeted that ending DOCA is wrong.

Airbnb

The short-term rental startup's cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk put out this statement:

We founded Airbnb based on the idea that our lives and our world are better when we accept each other. Those aren't just economic or business values. Those are the values America has been and should be all about.

Salesforce

Marc Benioff, the enterprise company's CEO, tweeted that DACA is good for business.

Mozilla

Denelle Dixon, chief business and legal officer for Mozilla, which makes the Firefox browser, put out a statement Thursday night:

We believe that the young people who would benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deserve the opportunity to take their full and rightful place in the U.S. The possible changes to the DACA that were recently reported would remove all benefits and force people out of the U.S. - that is simply unacceptable.

Removing DREAMers from classrooms, universities, internships and workforces threaten to put the very innovation that fuels our technology sector at risk. Just as we said with previous Executive Orders on Immigration, the freedom for ideas and innovation to flow across borders is something we strongly believe in as a tech company. More importantly it is something we know is necessary to fulfill our mission to protect and advance the internet as a global public resource that is open and accessible to all.

We can't allow talent to be pushed out or forced into hiding. We also shouldn't stand by and allow families to be torn apart. More importantly, as employers, industry leaders and Americans -- we have a moral obligation to protect these children from ill-willed policies and practices. Our future depends on it.

We want DREAMers to continue contributing to this country's future and we do not want people to live in fear. We urge the Administration to keep the DACA program intact. At the same time, we urge leaders in government to enact a bipartisan permanent solution, one that will allow these bright minds to prosper in the country we know and love.

Electronic Arts

The game company behind titles like Battlefield, Star Wars Battlefront and Madden NFL, signed the FWD.us group letter and also said it has a small number of DACA employees.

We are working closely with them and intend to help in any way that we can. 

Consumer Technology Association

The organization that puts on the massive CES show every January, spoke out as well. This from Gary Shapiro, president and CEO:

 Preserving DACA is the right thing to do. It also gives Congress an impetus to pass a humane immigration law that attracts and enables the world's best and brightest to innovate, build companies, create jobs and drive economic growth in the United States. Dreamers are an important part of this equation. 

 DACA recipients make our nation stronger and more economically competitive. They're employed at major tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft. They're innovating and paying their share into Social Security and Medicare. A report by FWD.us shows 91 percent of DACA recipients are employed, and at least 75 percent of the largest companies in America have a DACA employee. 


Our representatives in Washington can make a real difference and create a better atomorrow for our nation and these hardworking dreamers. The time has come for a bipartisan solution that fixes our broken immigration system, defines a pathway for dreamers to earn a place in our society and addresses our nation's labor shortage. Inaction is not a winning immigration strategy.

TechNet

The tech industry lobbying group's president and CEO, Linda More, put out a statement shortly after Trump's decision was made public.

Ending DACA will be highly disruptive to the U.S. economy because of the impact on many young people currently working with legal work permits they acquired because of this program. Whether you agree with DACA or not, ending it without anything to replace it creates unnecessary uncertainty for our economy and for almost 800,000 young people in this country who have passed background checks, paid fees, and are contributing to our economy, pursuing their studies, or even serving in our military.  

There is a broad and bipartisan consensus that we should not punish children for the actions of their parents. Leaders in both parties have long talked about finding a legislative solution to resolve this situation but have allowed policy disagreements and politics to lead to gridlock. The President's action now makes it an urgent priority for Congress to turn its sympathy for these young people into a law that ends the uncertainty they face.


Other tech leaders

Max Levchin, the former Paypal CTO and co-founder, who himself was born in the Ukraine, also spoke out.

Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann took to the company's blog:

America's tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has not only made this nation a more vibrant, dynamic place — it has given us a tremendous competitive advantage. We embrace entrepreneurs, dreamers and everyone who wants to come here to work hard and build stronger communities. For me, as an immigrant, it was a place where having an open mind, tolerant hearts, and thinking differently was championed. It was a place where you could turn technology into opportunity — and help create thousands of jobs and entire new ways of doing business along the way.

Today, that dream was gutted.

By reversing a program — which grants people who were brought to the United States as undocumented toddlers & infants a path to live and work here legally — the Administration has turned its back on the very institution it purports to protect: the American community.

DACA currently protects 800,000 young people in those communities. Young people who are our neighbors and play on our high school football teams; young people who are paramedics in Houston and who stand up each day to pledge allegiance to our flag. They are small business owners, friends, and dreamers. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.

In a few months, these young individuals, who have come out of our shadows to contribute to our economy through DACA protections, will start to lose their ability to work legally and will risk immediate deportation. There is no doubt that all of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America. But today's action does not reform a system fraught with imbalance, nor does it encourage citizenship — it simply encourages callousness and prevents our country from realizing its full potential. Congress and the President must actually do some work and craft a legislative solution that gives Dreamers a pathway to citizenship. Inaction will not only destroy families, it will destroy everything that has always made this country great.

Tracy Young, CEO of construction software company PlanGrid, weighed in on Trump's decision.

First published Aug. 31 at 9:42 p.m. PT.
Updated Sept. 1 at 1:08 p.m. PT: To reflect White House statement that Trump is expected to announce a decision on DACA on Tuesday. 
Updated Sept. 4 at 10:33 p.m. PT: To add news of Sessions of briefing, plus additional comments.
Updated Sept. 5 at 9:41 a.m. PT: To add the Trump administration announcement and responses from Facebook's Zuckerberg and Sandberg. 
Updated Sept. 5 at 10:37 a.m. PT: To add comments from Apple's Cook and TechNet.
Updated Sept. 5 at 2:28 p.m. PT: To add comments from many more.
Updated Sept. 5 at 3:34 p.m. PT: To add comments from Uber, Airbnb, CTA and more from Google.
Updated Sept. 6 at 4:10 p.m. PT: To add comment from EA.

iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.