As with most policy coming out of D.C., the debate over immigration is chaotic as usual, with U.S. federal courts ordering the government to renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It is doubtful whether that ruling can stand for a host of reasons, but leaders on both side of the aisle are at a minimum giving appearances that they are working on a solution. The president’s latest Twitter posts indicate that he’s backtracking on last week’s willingness to work with Democrats on a deal, but as is the case with many of the president’s policies, the narrative changes about every 10 minutes.
Many corporate leaders say they have had enough, as the uncertainty over the fate of DACA and “dreamers” is affecting everything from employee morale to the potential drag on their business.
To that end, dozens of CEOs have signed a letter that has been widely disseminated and will run in major U.S. newspapers. The list includes leaders who are all over the political map, from former GOP gubernatorial candidate for California, Meg Whitman, who is winding down her tenure at Hewlett Packard Enterprises, to Jeff Bezos of Amazon and owner of one of President Trump’ harshest critics, the Washington Post.
The letter urges federal lawmakers to find a permanent and workable bipartisan solution to DACA by the end of this week. Such action would give a tight 45 days transition period to finalize protections for dreamers and end the uncertainty that is harming families and businesses alike. “Failure to act in time will lead to businesses losing valuable talent, cause disruptions in the workplace, and will result in significant costs,” concluded the letter.
Whether this sentiment will move congressional leaders is an open question mark. Last fall, over 400 business leaders signed an open letter urging Congress and the White House to pass a bipartisan “Dream Act.” At the time it looked as if a repeal of DACA would be the proverbial straw that would break the camel’s back, but as we have seen over the past several months, that camel has been able to carry a lot of hay.
These publicly posted letters give companies the appearance that they are taking a stand and trying to hold the White House and Congress accountable. But like most such letters, they do little more than score some public relations points with some stakeholders. For now, companies appear content with the holiday gift the Trump Administration wrapped for them in the shape of last month’s tax cuts.
Of course, enthusiasm over the tax cuts could change, whether or not DACA really becomes sabotaged. Businesses have plenty of other policies generating angst. As pointed out by Joseph G. Carson on Bloomberg, those cuts leave little room for the massive infrastructure projects that would really benefit businesses in the long term. TriplePundit’s Tina Casey has also shown how bonuses given to employees in the guise of celebrating tax cuts can soon appear to be empty gestures if workers end up getting laid off. Meanwhile, other companies that have promised bonuses, such as Walmart, have found that any enthusiasm over these checks became quickly muted upon the announcements of store closings – in this company’s case, the shuttering of 63 Sam’s Club locations.
So, don’t be surprised if in another six months, we see another public letter from companies imploring Washington to do something about immigration. But as always, no one really wins, and dreamers will lose once again – as they see their lives constantly on hold because of policymakers’ inability to find an action.
Democrats may just want to call the President’s bluff and agree to his infamous border to get DACA moving. After all, it is pretty clear much of the wall will be more of a fence; and as proven in remote areas such as along the Texas-Mexico border, geography – not to mention the ongoing threat of litigation – will most likely mean that wall will never get close to completion.
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