Young immigrant who works for Johnson & Johnson pleads with lawmakers and CEO to save DACA

  • A DACA recipient who works at Johnson & Johnson pleads with CEO Alex Gorsky to help employees on this issue.
  • A group of young undocumented workers urged lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to permanently fix the program before it expires.
  • A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration's efforts to wind down DACA.

About 100 young undocumented workers urged lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to permanently fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before it expires in the spring.

The participants, organized by technology industry lobbying group FWD.us, met with legislators and staff on both sides of the aisle Tuesday and Wednesday. The campaign aims to prevent young adults brought to the U.S. as children from losing their work authorization or even being deported.

One of the participants had an urgent plea for her CEO.

Daniella Vieira, 23, said on Tuesday she came to Capitol Hill to draw attention to her plight and that of others like her. She arrived in the U.S. when she was 11 years old, attended Ohio State University and is now a financial analyst for Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company.

"It's very scary to come forward and disclose your status," she said.

Vieira pleaded publicly with Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky to do everything he can on this issue, which affects employees.

"I know that you have access to legislators," Vieira said, addressing Gorsky. "I urge you to bring that up with them and prepare our company to be able to provide support for the employees who are impacted by this, because we don't know what's going to happen next."

Vieira said she had previously communicated directly with Gorsky about DACA.

Gorsky, a grandson of immigrants, appeared on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday in an interview from a health-care conference. Correspondent Meg Tirrell asked the chief executive about Vieira's concerns and the importance of DACA to the company, which recently joined the Coalition for the American Dream in support of DACA recipients.

"We've made a stand on DACA," Gorsky said. "It's our hope we can ... get more comprehensive reform through. And we wanted to help our employees, like the one you talked to this morning. In fact, we think it's good for all of industry when that gets done."

However, lawmakers are having a difficult time finding a solution.

People protest in front of the U.S. Capitol to urge Congress to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on December 6, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
Getty Images
People protest in front of the U.S. Capitol to urge Congress to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on December 6, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration's efforts to wind down DACA.

President Donald Trump rescinded the program, initiated by President Barack Obama, last September. At that time, Trump gave Congress six months to formulate new legislation.

This ruling complicates the March 5 deadline that was set for phasing out the program. It is also not clear how the judge's orders will affect negotiations.

In a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday the president doubled down on the border wall. He said it must be a part of any DACA agreement. A White House statement after the meeting said they "reached an agreement to negotiate legislation that accomplishes critically needed reforms in four priority areas: border security, chain migration, the visa lottery, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy."

There are almost 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States. According to The Center for American Progress, passing legislation could add $281 billion in economic growth over the next decade and 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ a DACA recipient.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill press conference on the Republican agenda that GOP legislators want a DACA compromise.

"We want to make sure the DACA issue is solved," Ryan said. "But as you've heard me say time and again, this has to be balanced so that we don't have a DACA problem five or 10 years down the road."

Vieira said if this issue is not resolved her American dream will expire with the DACA program.

"We're desperate," she said. "We don't want to lose our jobs. We don't want to lose our homes. We don't want to have to go back to some place we've never known."