(Bloomberg) -- Hundreds of chief executives and business leaders in the U.S. have signed a letter urging President Donald Trump not to scrap a program known as “Dreamers” that prevents the deportation of young people brought to the country illegally.
The White House said this week that it was still reviewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was adopted when Barack Obama was in office. About 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children have received renewable, two-year work permits under the program and are protected from deportation under its provisions.
“Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy,” Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos and other executives said in the letter, which was posted on a website late Thursday in the U.S. “With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”
The open letter, signed by more than 350 executives, signals how top executives in the U.S. are feeling bolder about confronting the president. Trump last month disbanded two business advisory councils after CEOs from Intel Corp. to Merck & Co. stepped down in protest of his handling of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Warren Buffett, as well as General Motors Co.’s Mary Barra, were among the executives who signed the letter, with many issuing separate statements on company websites and social media.
“We care deeply about the Dreamers who work at Microsoft and fully support them,” Microsoft Corp.’s Satya Nadella wrote in a message posted on LinkedIn. “There is no question in my mind that a priority must be to create more jobs and opportunity for every American citizen. On top of this, smart immigration can help our economic growth and global competitiveness.” Microsoft officials also reached out to the White House to advocate for the company’s position, according to a person familiar with its actions.
Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg said “these young people represent the future of our country and our economy,” adding in his Facebook posting that “we need a government that protects Dreamers.”
In a letter published on Microsoft’s website, Brad Smith, chief legal officer, said: "These changes would not only negatively impact thousands of hardworking people across the United States, but will be a step backwards for our entire nation."
Uber Technologies Inc. said in a statement on Twitter that the people affected "deserve the chance to pursue the American dream."
Trump is facing pressure to act after 10 states threatened a legal challenge if the program continued beyond Sept. 5. White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert told reporters on Thursday that the administration is still reviewing the policy and that no decision was ready to be announced. Vice President Mike Pence said Trump is giving the matter “careful consideration” before making a decision.
On the campaign trail, Trump declared the program unconstitutional, but he softened his view considerably after taking office. His administration has continued to follow the Obama policy, granting new permits to thousands of applicants since January.
“We’re gonna show great heart,” Trump said in a February news conference, calling participants in DACA “incredible kids.”