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What's Next For DACA And DREAMers

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This upcoming Monday was President Trump's expiration date for DACA, the program that protects some 700,000 immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children. But this week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the Obama-era order, and that leaves the law in place for now. But without the pressure of a deadline, will Congress feel no urgency to act? Rob Jesmer is campaign manager for FWD.us - that's spelled F-W-D-dot-U-S - a group that's founded to try to mobilize the tech community to change the U.S. immigration system.

Mr. Jesmer, thanks so much for being with us.

ROB JESMER: Yeah. Thanks for having me on.

SIMON: Has the moment passed for DACA?

JESMER: I don't think so. I think that it's a little bit murky right now, as you said in your opening. I do think it took the pressure off of Congress to do something a little bit. And Congress, you know, whether it's spending bills or anything else or DACA, it generally doesn't do anything unless it absolutely has to. And so I think we're in a period where this is going to kind of float out there for a little bit, unfortunately.

SIMON: What do tech companies and other businesses tell members of Congress?

JESMER: You know, there's 700,000 of these people in this program. Almost all of them are employed - not all of them, but well north of 600,000 have jobs. They're working at not just tech companies. They're working at major Fortune 500 companies. They're working at restaurants. They're working at country clubs. They're working at - they're nurses. They're whatever you - schoolteachers. And so there's a real effect on the economy on this. And I think that's the part where I think a lot of companies have tried to impart on Congress that this is not just a disruption sort of on the human side of this, but it's also a disruption economically.

SIMON: You know, just this week, Mr. Jesmer, as I don't have to tell you, we've seen individual private companies take stands that Congress won't on gun regulations, typically - Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart, and individual companies and gun sellers we've even had on our program. Is that any kind of tip for the way in which businesses might now handle DACA?

JESMER: Look, I can't speak for what businesses are going to do or not do. But I don't think the companies had the same leeway they would have whether it's guns or anything else - you know, buying and selling things. This is - you know, you have major corporations. They obviously follow employment laws. And if they can't - they don't hire people that they can't hire. Like, it's just - you know, that'd put them in a lot of jeopardy. So I think a lot of companies are looking for how they can - you know, I'm sure they want to keep people on the payroll. And, you know, we'll see how things unfold here. But if suddenly these people don't have permits to work, I think the sad outcome is that they're not going to be allowed to stay employed at these businesses.

SIMON: Where's the leverage in this situation?

JESMER: I think everyone agrees, right? You have everyone from President Trump to Nancy Pelosi and everyone in between saying these people are a sympathetic class, that they came here as very young children. And so I think the leverage is, people understand that it is just not the American way to send these people home because that, in fact, wouldn't be sending them home. It would be sending them to a country that they really don't know very well. So I think Congress wants to do something. The issue I go back to - what we just talked about a few minutes ago - which is, when there's a reprieve which the court has provided, it unfortunately takes the pressure off of Congress a little bit.

SIMON: Rob Jesmer is campaign manager for FWD.us. Thanks so much for being with us.

JESMER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.