Corporate America is not leaving it to lawmakers and the White House to reach a deal to determine the fate of millions of illegal foreign workers whose temporary permission to work in the U.S. is set to expire early this year.
Instead, more than 100 corporate leaders are demanding immediate and permanent amnesty for millions of so-called “Dreamers.”
Just days after President Donald Trump hosted Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the White House to discuss legislation that would authorize funding for a border wall and end chain migration while also providing legal protections for around 700,000 foreign workers under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, corporate leaders have signed a letter urging lawmakers to enact a dramatically expanded amnesty program.
Although the letter cites the potential end of DACA as a reason for urgent action, it calls for a much broader amnesty program that would include all the so-called “Dreamers,” a broader group than the 700,000 DACA recipients. By most estimates, the broader group would include millions of illegal foreign workers rather than hundreds of thousands.
“We write to urge Congress to act immediately and pass a permanent bipartisan legislative solution to enable Dreamers who are currently living, working, and contributing to our communities to continue doing so,” the letter states. “The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country.”
The letter is short of specifics, failing to cite any evidence that the end of DACA would create a “crisis” for American businesses. The total number of DACA workers amounts to less than one-half of one percent of the American workforce, suggesting that the loss of these workers could be easily absorbed.
Even if recruiting and hiring legal immigrants and native workers would involve some additional expense, that seems unlikely to cause much disruption. Many of the executives signing the letters represent some of the wealthiest business in America, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com’s (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos, General Motors’ Mary Barra, and AT&T’s Randall Stephenson.
The letter calling for a permanent amnesty for Dreamers is likely to strike many Americans as off-key, particularly as it follows so closely behind the passage of tax reform legislation that slashed the corporate tax rate. Supporters of the tax cuts, including many of those who signed the letter, argued that American workers would benefit from the corporate tax cuts in the form of higher wages and an expanding jobs market. That is hard to reconcile with a call for extending permanent legal permission to hire millions of otherwise illegal foreign workers.