When Donald Trump was first elected president, many top technology company leaders chose to hold back any criticism to avoid becoming one of his Twitter targets or worse, and to appear to be supportive of the new American leader.
That reticence came to a crashing end today as many of the top Silicon Valley leaders went public with their upset, anger, concern and disgust at the president’s decision to withdraw President Obama’s support for “dreamers,” those immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and since have led exemplary lives.
“We are deeply disappointed by the administration’s decision today to rescind protection under the program for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),” wrote Microsoft President Ben Smith on the Microsoft blog, adding, “We believe this is a big step back for our entire country.”
Microsoft called on Congress to act quickly to restore the Dreamer’s rights, even if it means postponing work on the tax reform which could mean billions in savings for corporations which would see their tax rate lowered.
Smith also promised to provide lawyers to any of their three dozen employees who are Dreamers to help them fight extradition and stay in the only country they have ever called home.
“For the 39 Dreamers that we know of who are our employees,” wrote Smith, “our commitment is clear. If Congress fails to act, our company will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect our employees.”
Besides legal assistance, Smith said Microsoft would file an amicus brief in each case and look at ways they can intervene. “In short,” adds Smith, “if Dreamers who are our employees are in court, we will be by their side.”
Smith was not alone among America’s tech leadership in his concern and passion to undo this wrong-headed decision.
“This is a sad day for our country,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page. “The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai put his view on Twitter:
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) September 5, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a letter to his employees: “I want to assure you that Apple will work with members of Congress from both parties to advocate for a legislative solution that provides permanent protections for all the Dreamers in our country.”
Other top executives in Silicon Valley and beyond who spoke out, according to a report by NPR, include Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, AT&T’s Randal Stephenson and Tim Sloan of Wells Fargo, who wrote this to the president: “We care about a tax reform bill….Yet it is very clear today a tax reform bill needs to be set aside until the DREAMers are take care of.”
A few days ago, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke out, calling on Trump to preserve DACA. Nadella’s comments were especially poignant because he is an immigrant from India.
“I am a product of two uniquely American attributes: the ingenuity of American technology reaching me where I was growing up, fueling my dreams, and the enlightened immigration policy that allowed me to pursue my dreams.”
Until Trump, American leaders have proudly pointed out that the U.S. is largely a nation of immigrants or the children or descendants of immigrants. It is this influx of various nationalities, religious groups and ideas from around the globe that has refreshed and reinvigorated America in every generation.
Now we have a president who puts Nazi’s on the same plane as America’s founding fathers, who pardons a police official who repeatedly broke the law and who plays to the lowest instincts of the worst “deplorables” in our society in his search for a form of popularity.
Trump did not have the nerve to announce his DACA decision on camera today. Instead, he sent a grinning, pompous, lifelong racist, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, out to claim in his role as AG this was being done in the name of the rule of law.
This is only the rule of law if you are a white supremacist, a member of the KKK or a neo-Nazi. That is why it is heartening to see the leaders of the biggest, most important technology companies and other corporate voices making themselves heard, finally, in a rebuke to this lying, backstabbing, untrustworthy president, who disgraces his post every day when he walks into the oval office.
— CT Students for a Dream (@CT4aDREAM) September 5, 2017