Washington (AFP) - Over 100 major US companies joined forces to urge Congress to protect immigrants brought to the country as children, signing a letter published in full-page ads in major newspapers Thursday.
The companies called for immediate action to help workers who will lose the protection of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in March.
Chief executives of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple -- together known as GAFA -- were joined by those from IBM, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, General Motors, AT&T, Marriott, Hilton and dozens of others signing the letter calling for protection for the "Dreamers."
President Donald Trump announced in September he was scrapping the program, but with a six-month lag -- meaning those covered by DACA would be subject to deportation starting March.
"We write to urge Congress to act immediately and pass a permanent bipartisan legislative solution to enable Dreamers who are currently living, working, and contributing to our communities to continue doing so," they said in the letter published in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
"The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country."
The letter echoes concerns of analysts and businesses who say the economy could lose $215 billion in GDP if the 800,000 Dreamers leave the labor pool, at a time when many firms are finding it hard to fill open positions.
"In addition to causing a tremendous upheaval in the lives of DACA employees, failure to act in time will lead to businesses losing valuable talent, cause disruptions in the workforce, and will result in significant costs," the letter said.
"It is critical that Congress act to pass legislation before January 19th. This window of action leaves only 45 days for implementation prior to March 5th."
A US judge this week ordered the federal government to reinstate DACA pending final judgment on the justification for overturning it. That would allow Dreamers to apply to renew their status under the program implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012, unless overturned by a higher court.
Immigration advocacy groups note that Dreamers meet strict requirements and background checks, and are not eligible for any needs-based government financial support, but pay taxes since their status allows them to work legally.