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Apple joins other tech companies in urging protection of US work permits for highly-skilled immigrants' spouses

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Apple and a number of other large technology companies are continuing to resist President Donald Trump's efforts to change U.S. immigration policy, urging the Trump administration to keep a program that allows the spouses of highly-skilled immigrants to work in the country.

The group, which also includes Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and others, all wrote in support of a program that grants the spousal work permits, according to Recode, warning that the end of the program could cause issues for their foreign workers and families. It further suggested that ending the program could deter engineers, programmers, and those in other high-demand roles from working with U.S.-based companies in the future.

The program in question began in 2015 under President Barack Obama, with the U.S. government providing permits to the spouses of highly-skilled immigrants who have applied to become a lawful permanent resident. Previously, the spouses in question would not legally be able to enter employment at all.

The Trump administration has been seeking to make major changes to the immigration system, with court filings within months of taking office suggesting the White House was looking to reevaluate the status of the spousal program. A formalization of those plans took place later in the year, with the Department of Homeland Security advising it would propose to rescind the rules.

The protesting companies all wrote in through lobbying groups based in Washington D.C., including the Information Technology Industry Council, TechNet, the U.S. Chamber, and, backed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

"We represent employers who are committed to growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs for American workers," the groups said on Thursday. "However, we cannot achieve these goals unless companies can recruit and retain the most qualified employees.

"The spouses are eager to work in order to support their families, contribute to their communities by paying taxes, and utilize their skills to help the U.S. economy grow," the letter continued. The permits are also said to have limited unnecessary disruptions to businesses by ameliorating economic and personal hardships previously faced by many H-1B employees and their families.

A warning about the ending of the program was also provided, stressing it would have far-reaching effects beyond those who lose their permits. Employers might also face an increased risk that their valued, long-term employees will choose to leave their companies for other employment opportunities in countries that allow these workers and their families to raise their standard of living.

The communication from the tech companies and their lobby groups is the latest in a number of similar interactions with the U.S. government over immigration. Apple has been involved with multiple requests to the Trump administration to reconsider the ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, including one opinion piece where Apple CEO Tim Cook joined Koch Industries chairman Charles Koch in urging Congress to help those affected by the decision to end the program.

Editor's note: Due to the political nature of the topic, comments for this article have been disabled.