At least 18 top lawyers at their respective companies are among the more than 300 entrepreneurs and business leaders who urged President Donald Trump to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), but the administration announced Tuesday that it would phase out the program, instead leaving it to Congress to enact legislation.
The open letter, generated by FWD.us, asks congressional leaders to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) legislation. FWD.us was launched in 2013 by technology leaders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to address immigration policy and other political issues that affect the tech industry. According to the group's website, "America's broken system prevents far too many talented immigrants from fully contributing to our communities and our economy."
Many of the top lawyers who signed the FWD.us letter represent tech companies, including Adobe Systems Inc.'s executive vice president and general counsel Michael Dillon and Salesforce's president of legal and GC Amy Weaver.
Brad Smith, Microsoft Corp.'s president and chief legal officer, who also signed the letter, published a blog post shortly after the administration's announcement that it would end DACA, expressing "deep disappointment" in the decision and pledging to pay for legal counsel to protect any of their 39 known "Dreamer" employees from deportation. "If Congress fails to act, our company will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect our employees. If the government seeks to deport any one of them, we will provide and pay for their legal counsel. We will also file an amicus brief and explore whether we can directly intervene in any such case. In short, if Dreamers who are our employees are in court, we will be by their side," Smith wrote.
Uber's chief technology officer, Thuan Pham, in a blog post that begins with the story of his journey from Vietnam to, eventually, the United States at age 10, said he was "proud" to sign the FWD.us letter, noting that "we'll continue to stand by immigrants who want nothing more than to contribute to our country and pursue the American Dream." The post was published Tuesday on Uber's online newsroom site.
Heavy on statistics, the FWD.us letter to Trump and U.S. House and Senate majority and minority party leaders states that failure to preserve the DACA program would cost the American economy $460.3 billion from the national gross domestic product and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions. More than 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees, the letter adds. "Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy," it states. "With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage."
CEOs, general counsel and those "who directly report to either of those individuals" may register to add their signature to the letter. As of press time, the following legal representatives, in addition to the three mentioned above, have joined:
• After School App VP and GC Jeffrey Collins.
• AppNexus chief legal and people officer Nithya Das.
• BlackLine Inc.'s chief legal and administrative officer Karole Morgan-Prager.
• Chegg GC Dave Borders Jr.
• Concord SVP and GC Sonja Yurkiw.
• Electronic Arts' SVP and GC Jacob Schatz.
• GitHub Inc.'s chief strategy officer and GC Julio Avalos.
• MindBody's CLO Kimberly Lytikainen.
• NewsCred's GC Jared Kalmanson.
• Ovation Travel's EVP and GC Elie Gordis.
• Splunk Inc.'s SVP for corporate affairs and CLO Lenny Stein.
• Tesla's GC Todd Maron.
• Via's VP of legal affairs Erin Abrams.
• Workday's SVP, GC and secretary James Shaughnessy.
• Zendesk's CLO and SVP of administration John Geschke.