IBM pushing for DACA legislation by the end of the year
IBM is making an aggressive push for legislation that would help recipients of the Deferred Action For Childhood (DACA) program, an Obama-era program that let almost 700,000 undocumented individuals who were brought to the country as minors stay and work in the U.S.
Chris Padilla, vice president for the government and regulatory affairs at IBM, told The Hill that the company believes Congress can pass bipartisan legislation that would enshrine DACA policy into law by the end of the year.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at the beginning of September that the Trump administration would make moves to rescind DACA. The program is set to expire in March. If a legislative solution isn’t reached by then, it would be possible for U.S. immigration officers to deport the almost 700,000 so-called Dreamers — undocumented individuals who benefitted from the program — to the countries they were brought from.
Padilla said he thinks DACA provisions for Dreamers could be included as a part of a bipartisan fiscal package that Congress is trying to pass by the end of the 2017 legislative session.
Congressional observers are less confident in this. Adding DACA to a fiscal package is something the GOP is unfavorable to, despite interest from some Republicans in DACA legislation.
The company has been meeting with legislators to make its case for DACA provisions that affect many of its employees. However, the company is also making a broader push by flying in many of its employees who benefit from the DACA program to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and make their case.
“Our view is it’s more about what you do than what you tweet,” Padilla told The Hill. “Many tech companies have issued statements, but we’re actually trying to do something.”
Along with having DACA recipients and its lobbyists meet with legislators, IBM has also launched a Dreamer profile series, which tells the story of different Dreamers at the company.
IBM says that the profiles are a part of a coordinated effort to persuade lawmakers to take action DACA. The company will put paid advertising dollars behind the posts and target them to policy makers and “influencers” within the beltway.
Padilla says that its DACA efforts are modeled after the action it took on a Texas state bill that would have taken away transgender individuals’ rights to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The company waged an assault against the bill, which was being considered during a special legislative session called by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). IBM flew 20 executives into Austin to dissuade lawmakers from passing the bill.
“[IBM was] walking the halls with teams of executives,” Texas state Rep. Celia Israel (D) told The Hill in July. “H.R. people were talking to representatives about how important it is to walk into a friendly work environment.”
Though many tech companies have derided Trump’s DACA policy and held private calls with the president to dissuade him to not scrape the executive action, IBM appears to be the only tech firm taking large-scale public action.
Fwd.us, the technology industry’s advocacy group on immigration issues, is also joining the fight. Last week, the company flew in 100 Dreamers to Capitol Hill and held an event with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to make a case for legislation.
Even with the pushes for DACA legislation, time is waning for a solution in Congress. Republicans are in a mad dash to pass a tax reform bill before the end of the year and have made it a continued priority to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It’s unclear if Congress will spend the time it needs to craft and pass DACA legislation by IBM’s end-of-the-year timeline.