After a Labor Day weekend of heartfelt statements and tweets from business leaders imploring him not to end the program that protects young undocumented workers from deportation, President Trump did it anyway on Tuesday morning. Now the focus is turning to lobbying Congress for a legal solution to the so-called Dreamers' plight.
"This is a sad day for our country," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly posted in a Facebook note asking Americans to urge Congress to pass a "legislative solution that gives Dreamers a pathway to citizenship."
The fight over the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is only the latest to force marketers into conflict with the Trump administration. The previous practice of avoiding open political battles has quickly crumbled in an environment where the president, activists or executives themselves force brands to take a side on cause after cause.
Late last week, 300 business leaders sent an open letter to Trump expressing concern about the threat to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allows nearly 800,000 young people who grew up in the U.S. to study and work, for some of America's biggest companies, without threat of deportation. (More business leaders signed since then; the signatures now top 400). On Tuesday, they turned their attention to Congress.
The world's biggest marketer, Procter & Gamble, called the diversity of its workforce a competitive advantage:
Today's decision to rescind DACA further reduces the ability for companies to benefit from contributions from Dreamers and introduces more uncertainty for employers. We ask the administration and Congress to work together to find a legislative solution to provide employers certainty and allow the U.S. to continue to benefit from the contributions of the 800,000 Dreamers.
Other marketers could say the same, says Gilbert Davila, a former marketer and co-founder of AIMM, the Association of National Advertisers' new alliance focusing on multicultural marketing. "U.S. corporations have benefited from an increase in diversity and better inclusion in their workforce," Davila says. "At a time when our country is considering options that would indelibly affect the lives of millions of families, we at the ANA's Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) hope corporate America continues to prioritize the importance of our growing diverse segments and the impact these have on the trajectory of business growth."
Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, used Twitter to call "legislation to protect 800,000 #Dreamers" a must:
In a staff email Tuesday morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was "deeply dismayed that 800,000 Americans -- including more than 250 of our Apple coworkers -- may soon find themselves cast out of the only country they've ever called home."
"Dreamers who work at Apple may have been born in Canada or Mexico, Kenya or Mongolia, but America is the only home they've ever known," Cook wrote. "They grew up in our cities and towns, and hold degrees from colleges across the country. They now work for Apple in 28 states."
He pledged that Apple will work with Congress to advocate for a legislative solution "that provides permanent protections for all the Dreamers in our country."
IBM also weighed in:
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff argued that business leaders love DACA.
DACA=LOVE. CEOs ❤️DACA. https://t.co/CpPB5ye1y4— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) September 5, 2017
And Cisco Chairman Chuck Robbins said the company was proud of people protected by DACA.
Zuckerberg's new Facebook post refers readers to dreamers.FWD.us, a site he and other tech leaders founded to advocate for legal status for Dreamers. At the top of the site is an Act Now button that lets you input your phone number and receive a call connecting you to Capitol Hill.
TechCrunch snarkily posted "the complete list of tech CEOs supporting the repeal of DACA." It consists of … nobody. At the end of the very short post, TechCrunch invited readers to turn in any tech leader who supports repeal "and we'll update our list."
It's not just marketers. The Tribeca Film Festival tweeted that Dreamers "belong in America. Bigotry doesn't."
Among media owners, Univision President-CEO Randy Falco called Trump's decision "a failure to live up to a commitment already made to Dreamers" and "contrary to America's values and traditions."
Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney, also issued a statement: "The Dreamers impacted by this cruel and misguided decision make significant contributions to our economy and our country, and I urge Congress to take immediate bipartisan action to pass legislation that will protect these innocent people."