Apple CEO Asks Trump For A Softer Touch On Immigration

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Apple’s top executive asked President Donald Trump to show more compassion in his immigration policy and reassure immigrant workers in the technology community that they are welcome in the U.S.

Tim Cook, visiting the White House Monday along with fellow Silicon Valley power players, told Trump that the technology sector is “nervous” about the administration’s tough stance on immigration enforcement, CNBC reported.

Cook reportedly brought up the administration’s proposed travel ban, which he said could affect the families of some Apple employees, and the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the temporary amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants that Trump promised to cancel but has thus far kept in place.

The Apple CEO and his fellow technology titans, including Eric Schmidt of Google and Jeff Bezos of Amazon, were in Washington to meet with White House officials about upgrading the federal government’s use of technology. Between scheduled discussions over cloud computing and procurement systems, Cook implored Trump to soften his rhetoric on immigration issues.

He said technology employees need a “clear signal” that they won’t be targeted by the administration’s immigration policies, New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman reported late Monday night.

Cook has previously spoken out against Trump’s executive orders on immigration, particular the January directive — currently in legal limbo — that placed a ban on travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries and temporarily suspended the admission of refugees. He has also publicly supported the continuation of the DACA, which Trump has maintained despite repeated promises to rescind program. (RELATED: Spicer: Trump ‘Continues To Review’ Whether US Will Keep Amnesty Program)

Technology industry executives are also concerned with the future of the H-1B visa program, which allows American companies to hire foreign guest workers with advanced skills if they can’t find them domestically. Trump has called out firms that bring in foreign labor at lower salaries to replace U.S. employees, and in April he ordered the Departments of State, Justice, and Labor to suggest reforms to the H-1B system that will prevent the displacement of American workers.

Though Trump didn’t specifically address the H-1B visa program Monday, he did reassure the technology executives he wants to make sure that the U.S. immigration system benefits American technology companies.

“We’re working very diligently with everybody, including Congress, on immigration, so that you can get the people you want in your companies,” he said at a roundtable meeting with tech executives. “It’s been a tremendous problem that you’ve had over a long period of time.”

Trump echoed in those comments in his one-on-one asides with Cook, saying that Congress needs to work on “comprehensive” immigration reform. It was the second time he has suggested he would be open to broader reforms championed by his former Republican rivals, Haberman noted.

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