Cook, Zuckerberg join 100 CEOs in calling for DACA extension

Tech leaders urge congressional leaders to pass legislation protecting undocumented immigrant children.

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Steven Musil
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People protesting the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals rally on the steps to the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill in December.

Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images

Apple's Tim Cook and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are among a host of tech CEOs urging congressional leaders to pass legislation by the end of next week that protects the status of undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children.

The leaders of more than 100 major companies and trade groups signed an open letter Wednesday pressing Congress to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, by Jan. 19. The Trump administration said in September it would end the Obama-era program, which lets immigrants brought to the US illegally as children before 2007 stay without fear of deportation.

The program is set to officially end on March 5, but a threatened shutdown of the federal government looms next week.  Amazon's Jeff Bezos , Google's Sundar Pichai and Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff , among others, signed the letter, which argues that allowing the program to expire could cost the US economy $215 billion.

"The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country," the letter (PDF) says. "Failure to act in time will lead to businesses losing valuable talent, cause disruptions in the workforce and will result in significant costs."

The letter comes a day after a federal judge in San Francisco temporarily blocked the Trump administration's decision to end DACA, which could affect as many as 800,000 immigrants in the program, who are referred to as Dreamers.

For years, the tech community has pushed for immigration-friendly policies. Traditionally, its biggest concern has been for policies supporting immigration of skilled workers, people that American tech companies say they need to keep their competitive edge.

As early as 2013, executives such as Zuckerberg spoke out about protecting the legal status of Dreamers. He said he was inspired to take up this issue while tutoring undocumented students. In 2013, he started the FWD.us group to lobby for pro-immigration policies and broad immigration reform.

Opponents to Trump's move cite the basic economic sense of not wanting to lose employees, which could have real consequences for tech companies always on the lookout for talent.

A study by the Center for American Progress estimated that the loss of all DACA workers would reduce US gross domestic product by $433 billion over the next 10 years.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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