Alina Cortes...Alina Cortes, born in Mexico and lives in Texas, second from right, speaks to reporters as she stands with other DREAMers (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), calling for reform of the immigration system, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. They say the current immigration system is outdated, undermines military readiness, separates military families, and prevents talent from joining its enlisted and officer ranks. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
300 business leaders have signed a letter saying that children of illegal immigrants are ' vital to the future of our companies and our economy' © AP

Hundreds of business leaders have called on President Donald Trump to allow children of immigrants who entered the country illegally to remain and work in the US, as corporate America gears up for another fight with the White House.

The letter from chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, GM, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks and Visa is the latest example of corporate America speaking out publicly to try to influence the Trump administration.

It follows a rebellion after violence in Charlottesville, when many chief executives stepped down from councils designed to advise the president, unhappy with his response to the racist protests. 

The executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists signed the letter ahead of Mr Trump’s expected decision to end an Obama-era programme called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects nearly 800,000 young people who grew up in the US from deportation

The president, who pledged on the campaign trail that he would “immediately terminate” DACA if elected, told reporters on Friday that he would make his decision later on Friday or over the Labor Day weekend. “We love the Dreamers. We love everybody,” he said.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said the announcement would come on Tuesday. “The president’s been very clear: He loves people and he wants to make sure that this decision is done correctly,” she said.

In the letter, the business leaders also called on Congress to pass the bipartisan Dream Act or other legislation to allow the so-called “Dreamers” to remain in the country. 

“Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy. With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage,” they wrote. 

President Trump has been expected to scrap the five-year-old programme, creating uncertainty about the future of the Dreamers, 97 per cent of whom are in school or work.

Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House, also voiced concern, telling a Wisconsin radio station: “I actually don’t think [the president] should do that. I believe that this is something Congress has to fix . . . These are kids who know no other country.”

The technology industry has been particularly vocal in its criticism, especially over immigration, where it would like reforms to allow more skilled migrants to enter the US, rather than the restrictions proposed by Mr Trump. 

The 300 signatories include chief executives of large technology companies such as Meg Whitman from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Chuck Robbins from Cisco, leaders of tech start-ups such as Brian Chesky from Airbnb and Drew Houston from Dropbox, and venture capitalists John Doerr and Reid Hoffman. 

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive, was a founding member of the FWD.US organisation, which lobbies for both high skilled immigration and to create a pathway to citizenship for the 11m undocumented migrants already in the US. 

In a post on Facebook, he wrote that many migrants who had come to the US as children had been here as long as they could remember. 

“Dreamers have a special love for this country because they can’t take living here for granted. They understand all the opportunities they have and want nothing more than the chance to serve their country and their community. And Dreamers deserve that chance,” he wrote.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said ending DACA would mean “abandoning hundreds of thousands of young people”.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft chief executive, wrote on LinkedIn about his own experience as an immigrant to the US. “I am a product of two uniquely American attributes: the ingenuity of American technology reaching me where I was growing up, fuelling my dreams and the enlightened immigration policy that allowed me to pursue my dreams.”

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