The Trump administration’s announcement this week to wind down the Obama-led DACA program, affecting an estimated 800,000 who arrived in the US as unregistered children, has further exposed growing rifts between industry and Trump’s emerging immigration reforms. Whilst the announcement sparked an avalanche of social media criticism, unsurprisingly from vocal Trump critics such as Mark Zuckerberg, increasingly industry’s response is becoming far from reserved to the realms of Twitter.
With key tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple and Uber all spending record sums on lobbying federal officials, the new political climate has seen Silicon Valley extend its lobbying agenda away from merely tax reform, and towards a host of new issues from climate change, net neutrality and the case in point, immigration. Whilst headlines may focus on the ideological clashes of tech CEOs and President Trump, increased spending on immigration lobbying, reported by Bloomberg Government Data, indicates the practical significance faced by the industry.
Until this week, lobbying on the DACA program had broadly speaking been reserved for universities and colleges, the tech giants previously focusing their efforts on maintaining, and expanding, the H-1 B visa program. The program, designed to allow highly skilled tech workers into the US, has become integral to the tech industry, with Microsoft alone employing over 5,000 workers on the program. The Fwd.us group, an immigration advocacy group founded by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, has been a key driving force behind such efforts. In 2015, intensified lobbying resulted in a public clash, as Trump accused Zuckerberg and the tech industry of attempting to undercut US citizens through cheap foreign labor.
This week The Hill reported Fwd.us’s soliciting of signatures from key business leaders in an open letter to the White House. The letter, setting out opposition to Trump’s DACA stance, shows an increased mobilization, and willingness, of industry opposition and action against Trump’s immigration reforms. The huge social media platforms and public reach possessed by key tech players could also fuel growing grassroots advocacy movements that Trump may face ahead.