Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish Signs Open Letter From Leaders of American Industry Defending Dreamers
by Lisa Di Venuta
In 2012, the Obama administration passed a new policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA, sometimes called the “Dreamers” program, protects eligible young immigrants from being deported. The “Dreamers” are kids who emigrated to the U.S. with their parents. Many moved here as young children or infants, and some did not even know they were not Americans until later in life.
DACA opened the door for these kids to legally apply for their first job, to get their driver’s license, attend college and ultimately join the workforce as adults, contributing to the American economy.
Now, there is a movement in Washington to end this policy. If this happens, the lives of nearly 800,000 young Americans will be irrevocably altered. By March, they’ll be at risk of being forced to leave everything behind and move back to their native country—which many of these kids have no memory of.
On August 31, Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish joined President Barack Obama, dozens of university presidents, and a multitude of CEOs from major American tech and media companies in signing an open letter to the government leaders expressing their concerns about the devastating effects changing the immigration policy would have on the Dreamers living productive and happy lives in America, as well as the severe consequences it would have for the economy.
The letter cited statistics about DACA recipients to underscore their value to this country: 97 percent of Dreamers attend school or have a job, 5 percent are entrepreneurs and 81 percent have purchased either a car or a home. Some are even employed at the top 25 Fortune 500 companies.
“Unless we act now to preserve the DACA program, all 780,000 hardworking young people will lose their ability to work legally in this country, and every one of them will be at immediate risk of deportation,” the letter said.
“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.”
Viacom has consistently been a champion of diversity.
Back in October, MTV—a staple of American youth culture—unveiled an initiative in New York’s Herald Square called “Beyond the Wall.” It was 35-foot “concrete” wall, and spectators could click on a digital screen to watch a testimony from a young, first-generation American.
With a torrent of impassioned statements from business leaders, letters with signatures from media titans, and now 13 states and Washington, D.C. suing the federal government to stop the administration from revoking DACA, it seems the nation is rallying behind our young Dreamers.