Apple CEO puts employees at centre of ‘Dreamer’ appeal
Tim Cook has put Apple employees front and centre in a brief telling the US Supreme Court how the company would be hurt if undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children face deportation.
The brief poses an implicit challenge to President Donald Trump, whose move in 2017 to scrap the Obama administration policy known as Daca — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme — outraged many business executives.
Daca allowed around 800,000 “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who entered the US as children — to be shielded from deportation and made them eligible for a work permit. After Mr Trump deferred to Congress and Congress failed to build Daca into legislation, several legal challenges were filed. The Supreme Court is likely to hear oral arguments in the autumn and decide on the case by next summer.
Apple said it employs 443 Dreamers across 36 states in all regions of the country. Five of them were profiled in the 20-page letter, including a software development engineer identified as D.O. in the brief, who came to the US from Mexico at age eight. He said his work ethic stemmed from wanting to give his mother a better life. “I’m my mom’s retirement plan,” he said, according to the brief.
Mr Cook said that if another employee, an Apple Maps analyst from Peru known as W.V., had to leave the country, “his supervisor worries, ‘I don’t know if his replacement would be able to do what he can do’.”
Mr Cook has previously called Daca the “biggest issue of our time”. In Wednesday’s filing to the Supreme Court, he and Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of retail and people, said the company’s success was built on the sort of unconventional, diverse talents that the Dreamers bring to the US economy.
When the Daca programme was created, Apple “eagerly sought out and hired Dreamers” because “magical things happen” when a company has access to “wildly different perspectives, educations, and life experiences”, the Apple executives wrote.
Apple is one of many companies increasingly willing to wade into political battles, throwing its support behind contentious issues in a polarised US. Last year, for instance, Nike launched a divisive campaign in support of Colin Kaepernick, a former American football quarterback best-known for his political activism. It led to some people buying Nike shoes — and others to burn them.
More than 100 companies and business associations are expected to sign another brief supporting Daca, according to a person familiar with the matter. The widespread support was also reflected in a 2017 letter to Congress signed by 810 companies including Accenture, Adobe, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Hyatt Hotels, Lyft and Microsoft.
That letter estimated that if the 800,000 Daca recipients lost their ability to work, the US economy would lose $460bn of GDP and the federal government nearly $25bn in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.
Apple’s Supreme Court brief cited a study showing “companies with managers who have diverse traits and varied life experiences ‘are 45 per cent likelier to report a growth in market share over the previous year and 70 per cent likelier to report that the firm captured a new market’.”
Beyond economics, Mr Cook and Ms O’Brien said giving Dreamers the chance to stay in the US was the right thing to do, as each submitted personal information making them vulnerable to deportation to be part of the programme.
“The Dreamers took us at our word. They held up their end of the bargain. They have worked hard, paid taxes, and contributed to our society and to their communities,” the Apple executives wrote. “We collectively owe it to the Dreamers to hold up our end of the bargain. It is not just a legal requirement. It is the moral thing to do. Who are we as a country if we renege?”
Apple has submitted amicus briefs to the court before, but this is the first in which chief executive Mr Cook or Ms O’Brien attached their names to it.