Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been increasingly vocal on social issues in the light of Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency, spoke out on the topic of immigration this morning at a conference in New York, specifically in favor of “Dreamers.”
Those are the thousands of people — including some 250 Apple employees — living in the U.S. who were brought to the country illegally as children, and who face an uncertain future as Trump pushes Congress to make a decision regarding an Obama-era program that protected them, known as DACA.
Cook, speaking on a panel with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — at Bloomberg’s own global executive forum — said he and Apple are “pushing extremely hard on this,” calling it “the biggest biggest issue of our time, currently, among all these big issues.”
Why? Cook says: “This goes to the values of being American. This is: ‘Are we human?’ ‘Are we acting in a track of morality?’”
“These people — if you haven’t met them — at Apple, we have many that came to the U.S. when they were 2 years old. They didn’t exactly make a decision to come. They came here — they only know our country. This is their home. They love America deeply. When you talk to them, I wish everyone in America loved America this much.
They have jobs, they pay taxes, they’re pillars of their communities. They’re incredible people. And so, to me, it would be like someone coming to Mike [Bloomberg] and saying, ‘Mike, I just found out, you aren’t really a citizen here, you need to leave.’
This is unacceptable. This is not who we are as a country. I am personally shocked that there’s even a discussion of this. This is one of those things where it is so clear — and it’s not a political thing, or at least I don’t see it like that at all. This is about basic human dignity and respect. It is that simple and straightforward.”
On the broader subject of immigration, Cook said if he were a government leader, he’d be aggressively “recruiting” smart immigrants and trying to “monopolize the world’s talent” — not trying to boot them.
“If I were a country leader right now, my goal would be to monopolize the world’s talent. I’d want every smart person coming to my country, because smart people create jobs. And jobs [are] the ultimate things that create a great environment in a country. A land of opportunity. A land where everybody can do well if you work hard. These are the things that drive people, that give people a sense of purpose. I’d have a very aggressive plan — not just to let a few people in. I would be recruiting.”
Cook also said he had visited New York’s Ellis Island over the weekend to feel what it might have been like to be an immigrant arriving there from overseas.
“You can feel both the anxiety and the hope,” Cook said. “That is where we all started from. Maybe not Ellis Island — maybe it was Virginia, like my family. But we all started somewhere. We are all descendants of immigrants in the United States.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.