Leadership

Why a CEO of a global travel company and a dreamer say Trump's plan to end DACA could kill jobs

President Donald Trump makes an announcement on the introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on August 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images
President Donald Trump makes an announcement on the introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on August 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.

President Donald Trump has often touted his ability to create jobs. In September 2016, Trump boasted that his economic plan will make him the "greatest president for jobs that God ever created."

Fast-forward to Trump's Tuesday announcement that he plans to halt the Obama-era DACA program that protects 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Paul Metselaar CEO of travel management company Ovation Travel Group says terminating DACA runs contrary to Trump's campaign promise of job creation.

"This is a job-killing decision at the end of the day," Metselaar, who currently employs a DACA recipient, tells CNBC Make It.

Metselaar says that although the announcement wasn't particularly surprising, it left him feeling "disappointment, disgust and repulsion."

To qualify for the DACA program, individuals must register with the government, pass multiple background checks and pay taxes.

Over 97 percent of the "dreamers" who qualify for the program are in school, the workforce or serve in the armed forces.

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration today scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects from deportation almost 800,000 young men and women who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children, in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2017.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Demonstrators hold signs during a protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration today scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects from deportation almost 800,000 young men and women who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children, in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2017.

Metselaar says that ending DACA will cost the U.S. $433.4 billion in GDP lost and will also affect hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans.

One of those Americans is his employee and DACA recipient Ilknur Eren, 25.

Eren, who works as an executive assistant to the company's CFO, came to the U.S. from Turkey when she was just nine years old, she tells CNBC Make It.

"It was not my conscious decision," she says. "I was nine. I couldn't even decide what to eat for dinner."

Because she was not a U.S. citizen she was ineligible for most federal aid, loans and scholarships during her undergraduate career.

However, when Obama signed DACA into law in 2012, she applied for the program, went through the strenuous vetting process and paid a fee to be protected as an undocumented immigrant. "I knew that it would open up a lot of opportunities and a lot of doors," says Eren.

But in six months, she may lose all of that and the country that she called home for most of her life. "I am more accustomed to the American culture than the Turkish culture," she says. "I'm an American, just without the paperwork."

Metselaar describes Eren and other dreamers that he has come across as incredibly bright and dedicated. "They are all contributing more than immigrant parents from one or two generations ago," he says.

Protestors gather outside the Trump International Hotel to protest President Donald Trump's plan to repeal DACA in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2017.
Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters
Protestors gather outside the Trump International Hotel to protest President Donald Trump's plan to repeal DACA in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2017.

In New York, 5 percent of the state's population consists of undocumented immigrants, Metselaar says in a Crain's op-ed. That amounts to over 45,000 employees who will be removed from the workforce. In total, they earn over $18.3 billion annually and pay $1 billion in state and local taxes and $1.6 billion in federal taxes, he says. This leaves $15.8 billion in remaining spending power.

Ending DACA "will have a ripple effect on the economy," Metselaar tells CNBC Make It. "It will put a chill on people coming in from other countries. We will lose opportunities, which is tragic from a business perspective."

He points to Sergey Brin, the Russian-born co-founder of Google. "Can you imagine if someone like him was not allowed to enter the country?" says Metselaar. "This is the antithesis to job creation. Immigrants are not taking jobs. They are the entrepreneurs."

The White House's decision has been met with sharp criticism from a number of CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Metselaar says that the announcement has been discouraging for people like him who manage global businesses and for those who benefit from DACA.

"The company stands to lose a stellar employee. Now magnify that by 800,000," he says. Metselaar adds that business leaders must lobby Congress to either preserve the DACA program or pass bipartisan immigration reform. In the meantime, he says: "We will do everything within the boundaries of the law to support and protect [Eren]."

Eren says that she felt "devastated," when she heard that DACA was ending. Yet she remains optimistic that Congress will implement a plan that will allow her to stay in the country.

"I'm still very hopeful that [dreamers] will get to stay in the only country we have ever called home and contribute to our communities," she says. "I have aspirations and goals. I won't let this announcement stop me from achieving them."

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See also:

A 'dreamer' opens up about life under Trump

Why these 8 CEOs are standing up for 'dreamers'

These 5 tech CEOs are not happy with Donald Trump's travel ban