Tech giants join Janet Napolitano in urging support for DACA

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UC President Janet Napolitano appeared alongside representatives from major tech companies to support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has protected and bolstered many undocumented students at UC Berkeley.

At a Tuesday panel discussion at Microsoft’s San Francisco office, panelists stressed the role that DACA recipients — undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children play in the U.S. economy. Those present at the panel called deporting DACA recipients a pragmatic and ideological mistake for the nation.

“Dreamers are teachers, nurses, engineers, living and working in every single state and contributing to our economy,” said Peter Boogaard, a spokesperson for FWD.us, an immigration reform lobbying group led by tech giants such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates that participated in the panel. “Ripping them out of those communities is not only morally reprehensible — it’s bad for the economy.”

Janet Napolitano created the DACA program in 2012, when she served as secretary of Homeland Security under former president Barack Obama. The program allows undocumented individuals to remain in the United States after they pass a rigorous application and security review process.

The University of California is currently suing the Trump administration in response to the administration’s attempts to dismantle the DACA program.

“It is imperative … that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community,” Napolitano said in a statement regarding the lawsuit. “They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers.”

The UC system has about 4,000 undocumented students, in addition to teachers, researchers and health care providers, many of whom are protected under the DACA program, according to an email from UC Office of the President spokesperson Stephanie Beechem.

The tech industry has joined in to support the University of California’s lawsuit. More than 108 tech companies, from Adobe to Yelp, have filed an amicus brief — a legal document that outlines additional, relevant information for a court case — highlighting the negative impact that deporting DACA recipients will have on the tech industry.

According to the brief, DACA recipients fill critical gaps in skilled labor positions for tech companies. In the brief, companies such as Microsoft and IBM say they employ dozens of DACA recipients in high-ranking and broad-ranging positions, including software engineers and finance professionals. The brief states that the companies often struggle to fill these positions with U.S.-born workers. The brief also stated that DACA recipients are expected to generate $60 billion in tax revenue over the next 10 years.

Campus senior and DACA recipient Salma Mayorquin said she appreciated the support from the tech industry.

“I am glad that they see our potential and our dedication by championing for us,” Mayorquin said in an email. “These companies understand that the country has invested in us for many years and we just want to contribute economically and socially after essentially growing up as Americans.”

Contact Sam Levin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SamJLevin.