EXCLUSIVE-Tech companies to lobby for immigrant 'Dreamers' to remain in U.S.

by Reuters
Friday, 20 October 2017 02:59 GMT

Students gather in support of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) at the University of California Irvine Student Center in Irvine, California, U.S., October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Uber, IBM and many others to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, illegal immigrants to stay in U.S.

(Adds Intel comment, detail on ad campaign, background)

By Salvador Rodriguez and Jeffrey Dastin

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Nearly two dozen major companies in technology and other industries are planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, illegal immigrants a path to permanent residency, according to documents seen by Reuters.

The Coalition for the American Dream intends to ask Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this year that would allow these immigrants, often referred to as "Dreamers," to continue working in the United States, the documents said.

Alphabet Inc's Google, Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc, Intel Corp, Uber Technologies Inc , IBM Corp, Marriott International Inc and other top U.S. companies are listed as members, one of the documents shows.

Intel, Uber and Univision Communications Inc confirmed their membership, but the other companies did not immediately comment. It is possible that plans to launch the group could change.

"We're pleased to join with other organizations in urging Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers," Intel spokesman Will Moss said in a statement.

Matthew Wing, a spokesman for Uber, said, "Uber joined the Coalition for the American Dream because we stand with the Dreamers. We've also held town halls, provided legal support and launched an online Dreamer Resource Center for any of our drivers."

The push for this legislation comes after President Donald Trump's September decision to allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to expire in March. That program, established by former President Barack Obama in 2012, allows approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants to obtain work permits.

Some 800 companies signed a letter to Congressional leaders after Trump's decision, calling for legislation protecting Dreamers. That effort was spearheaded by a pro-immigration reform group Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg co-founded in 2013 called FWD.us.

Many of the companies that endorsed that letter are named as joining the new coalition. The group has planned to take out ads in news publications, though this is subject to change, according to an email last week seen by Reuters.

"Dreamers are part of our society, defend our country, and support our economy," said one of the coalition documents, which is being shared by the group to recruit additional companies.

A signup form for the group said 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ DACA recipients.

Trump campaigned for president on a pledge to toughen immigration policies and build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. He has left the fate of DACA up to Congress.

Action may come in December, when Congress must pass a spending bill to keep the U.S. government open. Democrats have considered insisting on help for the Dreamers as their price for providing votes that may be required to prevent a government shutdown.

"No politician wants to go home for the holidays and read stories about how this is going to be DACA recipients' last holidays in the U.S.," said Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, in an interview earlier on Thursday. He declined to comment on the new coalition.

"You will see this continue to escalate until the end of the year," he said.

(Reporting by Salvador Rodriguez and Jeffrey Dastin; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Lisa Shumaker)

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