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Trump faces CEO, staff pressure on immigration plan

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Trump could trigger a furious response from corporations and some members of his own staff if he green-lights a plan under consideration at the White House to end DACA, the Obama-era policy that suspends deportation of some undocumented workers who arrived as children.

  • I'm told some top CEOs, including leaders in tech and retail, plan to be tough and vocal if Trump ends the policy. But they're keeping quiet for now because they fear antagonizing him on a question that could have massive implications for their workforces.
  • A top Silicon Valley executive told me: "There's no issue that's more gut-wrenching for us. These are people who came out of the shadows, got jobs and mortgages — we see this as betraying fellow Americans. ... This is consuming a ton of time at every major company."
  • Some multinationals are even making contingency plans to move vulnerable workers to overseas locations.

Why it matters: Trump has faced an escalating revolt from CEOs — starting with the Muslim ban, increasing with his climate-change decision, and peaking with his handling of Charlottesville. Scores of high profile CEOs would pummel him publicly if he clears the way for mass deportation of kids.

  • A similar dynamic has unfolded with his own staff, many of whom have faced pressure in social and family circles with each controversial move. Imagine the blowback if they stood by silently as kids were deported.
  • One person close to the White House said: "This is different. This is families being torn apart. This is something that will follow [the aides] when they go back to real life."

The president has publicly agonized over the DACA decision — publicly lamenting its ugly human consequences — in a way he hasn't with other impending policies.

But senior officials tell us the majority view inside the Trump administration is that DACA is illegal, and the only way to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants who arrived here as children is for Congress to act.

It's for that reason that some top aides expect Trump will terminate it, even though he knows the backlash would be intense:

  • Axios' Jonathan Swan was first to report last week that Trump was seriously considering rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which provides work and study permits for about 750,000 people.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a strong opponent of the program, contending that it's not legal. The White House said yesterday that no decision has been made.
  • The N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman tweeted that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly "has said moving ahead with a DACA-ending decision right now makes little sense."
  • Ending DACA could put 700,000 jobs at risk, according to research released yesterday by FWD.us, a pro-immigration reform group co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg, and the Center for American Progress, with data from the Cato Institute.

Be smart: The Harvey catastrophe in the border state of Texas make the optics of the decision even more brutal for the White House. So some top Republicans increasingly hope Trump, who was inclined to back his attorney general, will find a less drastic way to fend off conservative legal challenges to the program.

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