Big Business Warns on Mass Deportation 12/09 06:18
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Still grappling with Donald Trump's surprise election,
the nation's business community has begun to pressure the president-elect to
abandon campaign-trail pledges of mass deportation and other hardline
immigration policies that some large employers fear would hurt the economy.
The push, led by an advocacy group backed by New York billionaire Michael
Bloomberg and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is still in its infancy as the
business world struggles to understand the tough-talking Trump's true
intentions on an issue that defined his outsider campaign. Some groups, such as
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are holding off, doubtful that Trump will
actually create a deportation force, as he suggested before his election, to
expel those estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
But others are assembling teams of public officials and industry leaders on
the ground in key states to encourage Trump to embrace a more forgiving
immigration policy --- in the name of economic development, if not human
"This election clearly showed that Americans are wildly frustrated with our
broken immigration system," said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the New
American Economy, a group whose board includes Bloomberg, Murdoch and leaders
of business giants Marriott, Disney and Boeing. "But it would be a mistake to
equate their desire for someone to secure the border with support for mass
deportation or other hardline policies that would both devastate the economy
and undermine core American values."
Robbins' organization has in recent days unveiled coalitions of business
leaders and public officials that oppose an immigration crackdown --- many of
them Trump supporters --- across Utah, California, South Carolina, Florida and
Colorado with more coming in Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and
Texas. Backed by its directors' deep pockets, the group is working to create a
permanent infrastructure that will pressure the new administration and members
of Congress in key battlegrounds even before the debate officially begins on
Trump railed against the dangers of illegal immigration throughout his
campaign, several times sharing the stage with parents of children killed by
immigrants in the country illegally. He also pledged to build a massive wall
across the vast majority of the 2,100-mile border with Mexico. And, early in
the campaign, he promised to create "a deportation force" to remove more than
11 million immigrants, although as Election Day approached, he left open the
possibility for a pathway to legal status for some who entered the country
Trump's transition team declined to answer questions about his immigration
plans this week.
He hinted at a softer approach in a Time magazine interview published this
week, saying he would "work something out" to help immigrants who were brought
to the United States illegally as children and granted work permits by
President Barack Obama. On deportation, Trump told "60 Minutes" shortly after
the election that he would prioritize deporting between 2 and 3 million "people
that are criminal and have criminal records --- gang members, drug dealers."
Such a plan would largely be in line with the Obama administration's current
The business world was caught flat-footed when Trump won.
Business leaders had invested far more time coordinating immigration policy
with Democrat Hillary Clinton before the election. None of the major players
have had regular contact with Trump's transition team since his victory, even
though Trump has vowed to make immigration a focus of the early days of his
"This is going to take a while," said Daniel Garza, executive director for
the Koch Brothers-backed LIBRE Initiative, which supports a pathway to
citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally and opposes mass
deportation. "In the meantime we will make sure our voice is heard."
Trump faces political pressure on both sides. His most passionate supporters
are unlikely to accept a Trump administration that embraces big business'
"Donald Trump will lose all credibility," said Dan Stein, president of the
Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that pushes for strict
Stein, optimistic that Trump is putting immigration hardliners like Alabama
Sen. Jeff Sessions in his Cabinet, said Trump should pursue mass deportations
to protect American workers.
"Under Donald Trump, this left-right business coalition thing is not going
to work," he said.
Yet business groups note that experts have predicted negative economic
consequences should Trump pursue mass deportation. A study released in February
by the right-leaning American Action Network found that such a plan could
reduce "real GDP by $1 trillion" and cost taxpayers more than $400 billion.
Public opinion appears to be on their side.
While the Pew Research Center found over the summer that eight in 10 Trump
supporters want a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, an October survey found
that 60 percent of Trump backers also said immigrants in the country illegally
should be able to stay in the U.S. if they meet certain requirements. Roughly
one third of Trump supporters said there should be a "national law enforcement
effort to deport" all such immigrants.