Apple CEO Tim Cook, other business leaders urge Congress to save DACA program

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Apple CEO Tim Cook and more than one hundred business leaders on Wednesday urged Congress to pass legislation that would keep Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protections in place for immigrants brought into America as children.

Cook joined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft President Brad Smith, HP CEO Meg Whitman, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, IBM Chairman Ginni Rometty and other U.S. business leaders in signing a letter (PDF link) asking Congress to arrive at a bipartisan solution for immigrants who benefit from DACA, reports The Hill.

Addressed to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, the letter was signed by 140 business leaders.

The upcoming expiration of DACA is an "impending crisis" for companies across the country, the letter says. Citing a CATO Institute study, the group says an end to DACA would result in a $215 billion decline in gross domestic product.

"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 reads.

While technically incorrect, the term "Dreamers" has become synonymous with children, young adults and working adults who in some way benefit from DACA protections. The label is tied to a separate proposal, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which was floated in 2001 as a potential path to residency for certain individuals living illegally in the U.S. That legislation never passed.

The letter asks Congress to pass pro-DACA legislation by Jan. 19, the deadline lawmakers face in a looming government shutdown. Congress has until that date to pass a funding bill, but Republicans and Democrats are fighting over long-held ideals on defense spending, domestic programs and other details.

DACA is, for some Democrats, also on the table. Though Republicans like McConnell maintain DACA concessions will be hammered out in legislation separate from the required funding bill, progressive Democrats are pushing partisan leadership to conflate the two issues.

For its part, the group of CEOs says a Jan. 19 deadline is warranted as DACA expires on March 5, leaving Congress only 45 days to implement a newly outlined program.

"While delay or inaction will cause significant negative impact to businesses, hundreds of thousands of deserving young people across the country are counting on you to work in a bipartisan way to pass permanent legislative protection for Dreamers without further delay," the group says.

Today's letter echoes a nearly identical call to action signed by many of the same CEOs last year. That letter called on both President Trump and Congress to preserve DACA and pass bipartisan legislation that ensures "Dreamers" a more permanent solution.

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