Resisting Employer Sanctions: A Strategy for Civil Disobedience
35 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2023
Date Written: February 28, 2023
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is on a death march in the federal courts. Ending DACA would mean that 600,000 individuals would lose their work permits. That means that about 22,000 DACA recipients would lose employment authorization every month for two years, roughly 1,000 per business day.
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) would resolve the situation for DACA recipients and other Dreamers by granting them lawful permanent residence status.
Businesses have been loud supporters of the DREAM Act. Statements of support from Google, Facebook, Apple, Cisco, Uber, Ikea, Adobe, Hilton, Best Buy, Levi Strauss, and many others are easy to find. In 2018, when DACA was under threat by the Trump administration, I urged supportive employers to stand behind their DACA employees if DACA was terminated and to engage in civil disobedience. I argued that giving in to the threat of employer sanctions would turn employers into a “weapon of oppression and dehumanization” and that defying employer sanctions would be the “right moral answer.”
This article is a follow up to my 2018 call for employer civil disobedience to support DACA recipients and the DREAM Act. I will describe efforts that businesses have engaged in to support the DREAM Act, as well as efforts that some have taken on to help their undocumented employees obtain lawful immigration status. I will also describe efforts by my students and me to convince corporate businesses to play a bigger role in support of the DREAM Act and DACA employees. Our efforts have included three different asks: 1) to do more to publicly support the passage of the DREAM Act; 2) to pay the legal fees necessary to have DACA employees screened by immigration lawyers to determine if a path to immigration status exists for an individual under existing law, and 3) to seriously reflect on what the employer will do if DACA is terminated and what civil disobedience or an alternative employment plan would look like.
I call on all employers to engage in civil disobedience if DACA is terminated. However, my focus here is on big business. I believe that the voice of big business can have great impact in the halls of Congress. I also know that big business has the resources to battle any attempt by the government to punish, plus these companies can afford the fines if any are imposed.
Keywords: Dream Act, DACA, immigration, civil disobedience, employer sanctions
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation