WASHINGTON -- More than 100 corporate leaders and other prominent figures on Monday called on US lawmakers to protect immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children.
In an open letter to Congress, the heads of General Motors, Facebook, Coca Cola, Apple, Amazon, Google, AT&T and Microsoft, among others, said these immigrants, known as "Dreamers," were a boon to the US economy and a dedicated workforce.
"These are our friends, neighbors and co-workers and they should not have to wait for court cases to be decided to determine their fate when Congress can act now," the executives said in the letter, which appeared a full-page ad in The New York Times on Monday.
In a campaign lasting nearly 20 years, activists have pressed for lawmakers to pass legislation, known as the DREAM Act, that would make the "Dreamers" legal US residents, and create a path to citizenship.
Former president Barack Obama allowed more than 700,000 Dreamers to apply for protection from deportation, and to work legally if they met certain conditions. But President Donald Trump moved to cancel that policy in 2017, although it remains in effect under court order.
The executives -- who say they represent half of private US workers -- echoed many of the arguments in favor of protecting immigrants who were raised in the United States and know no other country.
"Studies by economists across the ideological spectrum have determined that if Congress fails to act, our economy could lose $350 billion in GDP and the federal government could lose $90 billion in tax revenue," the letter said.
"We have seen time and again that the overwhelming majority of Americans of all political backgrounds agree that we should protect Dreamers from deportation."
Trump last month offered to extend protections for Dreamers as a bargaining chip in the current talks with Congress over funding for a wall on the border with Mexico, but Democrats have largely prevented the issue from entering the negotiations.
The demand for a wall threatens to result in another government shutdown as soon as Saturday.