Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google on Wednesday said it will pay for the application fees of more than 500 people applying to be recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, as the future of the Obama-era program comes into question. 

Last month, a coalition of nine states challenged the legality of the program before a federal judge in Texas. The case brings uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of people relying on the program, called “dreamers.” 

Through its philanthropic arm, the company said it will award a $250,000 grant to the organization United We Dream, which works on behalf of undocumented youth. The money will be used to pay for 500 DACA applications, which cost $495 each.   

“We know this is only a temporary solution,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post. “We need legislation that not only protects Dreamers but also delivers other much-needed reforms.”

Google and other Silicon Valley companies have long supported immigration reform because it gives them access to international talent. In June, President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily freezing work visas, including H1-B visas popular in the tech industry, amid the coronavirus pandemic. In response, Google CEO tweeted that he was “disappointed by today’s proclamation.”

Google, however, has drawn criticism in the past when it comes to immigration. In 2019, the search giant hired former Homeland Security official Miles Taylor, a move that immediately drew blowback from the company’s rank and file employees. Taylor had been involved with the Trump administration’s policy to separate families at the Mexican-American border. He also publicly defended the policy that barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

Taylor took a leave from Google last August, after he announced his support for then-candidate Joe Biden for president. In October, Taylor came out as “Anonymous,” the unnamed author of a 2018 New York Times opinion essay that caused a stir in Washington, DC. Soon after, a Google spokeswoman confirmed Taylor had left the company permanently. 

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