Corporate America gets behind immigration bill that Trump threatened to veto

  • The chief executives of some of the nation's biggest companies are publicly supporting a bipartisan immigration bill that the White House has threatened to veto.
  • The Coalition for the American Dream – whose members include Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Marriott – called the bipartisan proposal a "common sense" path.
  • The measure was likely to fail to garner enough votes to advance in the Senate, however.

The chief executives of some of the nation's biggest companies are publicly supporting a bipartisan immigration bill that the White House has threatened to veto, the latest rupture between corporate America and the pugilistic administration.

However, the measure failed to garner enough votes in the Senate to advance Thursday.

In a letter to congressional leadership, the Coalition for the American Dream – whose members include Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Marriott – called the bipartisan proposal a "common sense" path forward for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

"The amendment provides legal certainty for Dreamers and businesses, avoiding a loss of valuable talent and significant disruptions in the American workforce, and would ensure that these deserving young people can continue contributing to their communities and our economy," the letter states.

The National Association of Manufacturers also announced Thursday that it would support the bipartisan measure. While the influential trade group acknowledged that the proposal was not a "comprehensive solution," it lauded taking steps to address the immediate problem.

"We have repeatedly called for Washington to overhaul our broken immigration system so that it not only welcomes the contributions of those living in the shadows but also ensures we stop having these debates in the future by actually securing the border," the group said in a statement.

Under that measure, the roughly 700,000 immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program could apply for citizenship within 10 to 12 years. In exchange, it provides $25 billion for border security, including President Donald Trump's southern wall, over the next decade. It would also prohibit DACA recipients from sponsoring their parents for citizenship.

Backing the proposal puts the business community squarely at odds with Trump, who called it "a total catastrophe" in a tweet Thursday afternoon. The White House is even pressuring the 16 senators who sponsored the legislation to withdraw their support.

"This proposal would represent an unprecedented harm to immigration security and in turn to the security of the country overall," a senior administration official said.

Ending protected status for DACA recipients would push them out of the legal workforce – costing companies as much as $1.8 million a day in restaffing, according to the think tank New American Economy. America's corporate titans have cited the potential damage to the nation's labor force in urging Congress to find a solution for those workers before the program officially winds down March 5.

The administration is backing a broader immigration bill led by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa that includes stricter requirements for citizenship, further limits on family sponsorship and turning the visa lottery into a merit-based system.

"We think that has a chance of getting 60 once folks realize that these other proposals are totally and completely un-serious," the White House official said.

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