Google vows to pay for 500 DACA applications in call for immigration reform

The future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program faces uncertainty.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google on Wednesday said it will pay for the application fees of more than 500 people applying to be recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, as the future of the Obama-era program comes into question. 

Last month, a coalition of nine states challenged the legality of the program before a federal judge in Texas. The case brings uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of people relying on the program, called "dreamers." 

Through its philanthropic arm Google.org, the company said it will award a $250,000 grant to the organization United We Dream, which works on behalf of undocumented youth. The money will be used to pay for 500 DACA applications, which cost $495 each.   

"We know this is only a temporary solution," Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post. "We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers but also delivers other much-needed reforms."

Google and other Silicon Valley companies have long supported immigration reform because it gives them access to international talent. In June, President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily freezing work visas, including H1-B visas popular in the tech industry , amid the coronavirus pandemic. In response, Google CEO tweeted that he was "disappointed by today's proclamation."

Google, however, has drawn criticism in the past when it comes to immigration. Employees upset with the Trump administration's immigration policies pushed back against the company last year after it was reported that Google licensed its cloud software to Customs and Border Protection. At the time, a Google executive reportedly defended the deal by saying the company's technology was not being used for immigration enforcement at the southern border.

Employees also called out the company in 2019 when the search giant hired former Homeland Security official Miles Taylor, who had been involved with the Trump administration's policy to separate families at the Mexican-American border. He also publicly defended the policy that barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

Taylor took a leave from Google last August, after he announced his support for then-candidate Joe Biden for president. In October, Taylor came out as "Anonymous," the unnamed author of a 2018 New York Times opinion essay that caused a stir in Washington, DC. Soon after, a Google spokeswoman confirmed Taylor had left the company permanently.