There's nothing pro-business in Trump's DACA-dumping ways

President Donald Trump promotes himself as pro-business, but his plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — is the most anti-business decision he's made.

Barring a quick congressional fix or an unforeseen turn in the president's moral compass, Trump's initiative threatens to go beyond having a chilling effect on the economy.

It threatens to become a full arctic blast.

Trump's pronouncement could push nearly 800,000 mostly young and productive people out of this country as their DACA permits expire. It's a group we can't afford to kick out.

Moral outrage and dilemmas aside, let's make the business case for why this is a lousy call.

Many in the DACA program are already part of the taxpaying American workforce. Others are attending schools and poised to make a contribution to society. What's more, they're also customers spending lots of money to buy the stuff our country's wide assortment of businesses churn out.

What is the multiplier effect on our economy if all 800,000 DACA recipients and their families pack up and leave?

The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, a group representing hundreds of businesses and labor interests, is citing data that estimates a hit of about $2.3 billion annually to the state's gross domestic product over 10 years.

Nationally, the economy stands to lose $460 billion of GDP and about $24 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions, according to data cited in a recent open letter supporting DACA sent to Trump and signed by more than 350 of the nation's leading CEOs, senior executives and other private sector leaders.

Many of country's business titans oppose Trump on DACA.

Among them: populist billionaire Warren Buffett, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Closer to home, the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition lists over 350 leaders, including current and former CEOs, small business owners and labor leaders opposing the president's immigration decision.

That group includes: Carole and Gordon Segal, Crate and Barrel co-founders; John Rowe, Exelon chairman emeritus; John Atkinson, managing partner of Willis Towers Watson Group; and Susan Crown, head of her namesake financial firm and a member of the wealthy Crown family.

Collectively, the business community is signaling an important new reality: To keep the country's workforce young and vital, we need to retain DACA and craft immigration policies that encourage people to legally come here and stick around.

No matter how many robots we ultimately invent and deploy, demand for well-educated and trainable job candidates is critical, particularly with an estimated 4.3 percent national unemployment rate raising the job stakes.

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the DACA executive order allowing children of immigrants in this country illegally to get two-year work permits and protection from deportation.

It applied to those who entered the U.S. before 2007 and were 16 or younger when they immigrated. As a group, they came to be widely known as "Dreamers."

During his successful election campaign, Trump took a hard line on immigration policy.

With this latest move, Trump stays pretty cozy with his political base. But he's increasingly at odds with the nation's business community.

Last month, Trump's major corporate councils disbanded as many company CEOs distanced themselves in protest of the president's initial response to the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va.

They haven't entirely fled, not while there's the possibility Trump will make good on getting a corporate tax cut. There's nothing big business likes more than a good tax cut, unless it's fewer regulations.

But in repealing DACA and dumping the massive immigration problem on a fractured Congress, Trump shows he's not such a canny, pro-business president after all.

That's something he can only dream of being.

roreed@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @reedtribbiz

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