A leading bank CEO condemned the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that led to more children and parents being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, as did a New York nonprofit co-led by another big-bank chief.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday ending the family separations but other immigration issues remained unresolved. The bankers' opposition came before this latest development.
Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a letter to employees Tuesday that his heart went out to the families involved in the current crisis, and he warned that problems with U.S. immigration policy was “tearing apart our body politic and damaging our economy.”
The Trump administration enacted a policy in April to criminally prosecute immigrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico illegally. Since children cannot be held in federal prison, authorities have been separating them from their parents. That sparked outrage from Democrats and some Republicans in addition to criticism from foreign leaders, business executives and others.
In his letter to employees, Dimon noted he had addressed the issue of immigration reform in a recent letter to shareholders, saying reform was “important both morally and economically.” Besides the border separations, he urged finding a legislative solution for DACA recipients, who are also known as Dreamers.
“Fixing these issues will clearly boost the economy and help companies like ours hire great talent, but more importantly, it will reflect our American and core human values of fairness, decency and mutual respect,” Dimon said in the letter.
The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs at major U.S. corporations that promote pro-business policy, also released a statement on Tuesday urging Trump to end the policy of separating minors from their parents.
“Business Roundtable urges the administration to end immediately the policy of separating accompanied minors from their parents,” the statement said. “This practice is cruel and contrary to American values.”
Dimon, who sits on the board of that group, referenced that statement in his own letter to JPMorgan employees and said he strongly agreed.
Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, also weighed in on the issue, though more indirectly. He is currently the co-chair of the Partnership for New York City. That nonprofit issued a statement calling on Congress and the Trump administration to “move immediately to enact sensible immigration reform.”
“This includes a permanent solution for DACA recipients and an end to the unprecedented practice of separating children from parents at our nation’s border,” the statement said. “We urge that no further arbitrary restrictions be placed on the number of immigrants admitted to the country, visas and green cards issued, or on refugee status.”
The statement went on to note that more than 37% of New York City residents and 41% of business owners are foreign-born, and urged immigration policies to “reflect the essential role that immigrants play in our economy and our society as a whole.”
Bank CEOs have increasingly weighed on controversial issues. Bank of America Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan previously addressed the risks of tightening U.S. immigration restrictions in an already tight labor market. He noted that this could undermine economic gains seen from federal tax cuts.
Additionally, following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Corbat weighed in on gun control. Citigroup said in March that it would require all customers to follow a number of restrictions on gun sales, including banning the sale of bump stocks.