Silicon Valley on Tuesday hit back at the Trump administration's decision to rescind DACA, an Obama-era program that allows undocumented individuals who were brought to the US as children to defer prosecurtorial action for two years at a time, provided they follow certain guidelines.
Today, the Justice Department announced an "orderly phase out" of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) within six months since the program "was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch," according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Ideally, Congress will address the issue through legislation in the next six months, though it has failed to do so for years. That failure to act on immigration reform is what moved President Obama to introduce DACA in the first place, though he noted at the time that DACA was temporary and called on Congress to do something. "There is still time for Congress to pass the DREAM Act this year, because these kids deserve to plan their lives in more than two-year increments," Obama said in 2012.
But Congress did nothing, so those kids have indeed been living in two-year increments. Now, the lives of more than 800,000 young people are in limbo, prompting criticism from the CEOs of major tech firms.
'A Sad Day'
"This is a sad day for our country. The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it," Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post.
"The young people covered by DACA are our friends and neighbors," he continued. "They contribute to our communities and to the economy. I've gotten to know some Dreamers over the past few years, and I've always been impressed by their strength and sense of purpose. They don't deserve to live in fear."
Zuckerberg urged Congress to "act to pass the bipartisan Dream Act or another legislative solution that gives Dreamers a pathway to citizenship," something his FWD.us organization has been pushing.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai echoed those sentiments on Twitter:
Brad Smith, president and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, said the company is "deeply disappointed" by the administration's decision, and urged Congress to take up DACA before tax reform, given the time constraints.
"We say this even though Microsoft, like many other companies, cares greatly about modernizing the tax system and making it fairer and more competitive," Smith wrote in a blog post. "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."
But Smith acknowledged that "we should be prepared for the possibility that it will not do so," in which case the "broader business community [must] vigorously defend the legal rights of all Dreamers"—including the 39 employed by Redmond.
"If the government seeks to deport any one of them, we will provide and pay for their legal counsel," Smith pledged. "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."
'Setback for Our Nation'
In his own tweet, Tim Cook says Apple employs 250 Dreamers.
In a Tuesday note to employees obtained by MacRumors, Cook said he was "deeply dismayed" by the DOJ's decision, which he called a "setback for our nation."
"I've received several notes over the weekend from Dreamers within Apple. Some told me they came to the US as young as two years old, while others recounted they don't even remember a time they were not in this country," he wrote.
Apple is working to "provide [Dreamers] and their families the support they need, including the advice of immigration experts."