Big-bank CEOs, smaller tech-focused lenders and advocates for low-income workers expressed opposition Tuesday to President Trump’s plan to terminate protections for young, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.
Following the administration’s announcement that it will stop issuing work permits to so-called dreamers, a corporate lobbying group that includes leaders from several megabanks — including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup — issued a swift condemnation.
“We should do everything in our power to continue to attract the best and brightest because they make us stronger as a people and as an economy,” Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase and chairman of the Business Roundtable, said in a statement issued Tuesday. “And, when people come here to learn, work hard and give back to their communities, we should allow them to stay in the United States.”
Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan, meanwhile, urged Congress to move on legislation that offers protections young immigrants.
“The individuals covered by the terms of this program live in and contribute to the neighborhoods and communities across our country that we serve every day,” Moynihan said in an emailed statement.
The comments echoed criticism from the business community that has been building in recent days. Several CEOs, including from Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, Calif., and Eastern Bank in Boston, were among leaders from a range of industries who urged policymakers last week to preserve the benefits provided under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The opposition illustrates the latest split between the Trump administration and bank CEOs on matters of social policy.
It comes just weeks after business leaders, including Dimon, agreed to disband a White House policy forum following President Trump’s refusal to unequivocally condemn a violent protest by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Va.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled the administration’s plans to unwind DACA. The program, created under President Obama, provides two-year work permits for nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants.
Those who are enrolled in the program will be able to continue working until permits expire on March 5, 2018. In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security will no longer accept new applications.
In announcing its plan, the administration cast the program as an “unconstitutional” example of executive overreach on immigration issues. Attorneys general from 10 different states had threatened to challenge DACA in court.
“The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws — this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend,” President Trump said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. The president urged Congress to address the issue.
The immediate impact on the banking industry on unwinding DACA is unclear. Also uncertain is whether the decision will affect the industry’s legislative priorities, at a time when other must-pass legislation, such as increasing the debt limit, has already sidelined industry efforts to modify Dodd-Frank. It appears likely that regulatory and housing finance reform will fall even further back on the priority list as lawmakers face a growing list of must-pass items.
Perhaps the biggest impact, however, may initially be felt by community advocates who work alongside the banking industry.
Gerald Chertavian, founder and CEO of Year Up, a job training program that works with low-income individuals who can’t afford college, said that eliminating DACA would have a big impact on trainees who aim to work in banking.
Year-Up works with big companies, including Bank of America, State Street and JPMorgan, to place about 3,600 workers per year in back-office, finance and customer-service jobs. JPMorgan, in particular, hires many per year from the program.
About 300 of Year Up’s trainees have been “dreamers,” according to Chertavian.
“They have been an incredible group of individuals who have gone on to work at some of the best companies in this country,” Chertavian said. “They’ve been huge economic assets for their companies, they are contributing taxpayers. … What a shame to think that it could somehow stop.”
Reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, however, banks did not comment individually on the DACA termination.
A spokesman for JPMorgan referred to the statement issued by the Business Roundtable. Citigroup did not comment, while Bank of America and Wells Fargo did not respond to requests for comment.
Still, over the past week, bank leaders from a range of company sizes have also joined together, urging policymakers to preserve DACA.
Several CEOs signed an Aug. 31 letter from the advocacy group FWD.us, calling on lawmakers to protect the nation’s “dreamers.” Among the signatories were executives at $10.5 billion-asset Eastern Bank in Boston, and the $47.6 billion-asset Silicon Valley Bank. Tim Sloan, CEO of Wells Fargo, also signed the letter.
FWD.us was founded by tech executives in 2013 to advocate for immigration reform.
“As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we are concerned about new developments in immigration policy that threaten the future of young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children,” the Aug. 31 letter said.
Reached for a comment Wednesday, a spokesman for Eastern Bank said the letter “still communicates our position.”
Alan Kline contributed to this article.