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T-Mobile and Sprint stay quiet on DACA as merger deal sits in review


Yesterday, over 100 executives, including many from the US’s most influential tech companies, signed onto a letter urging congressional leaders to protect Dreamers. The coalition argued that losing Dreamer protections would cost the US economy $350 billion in GDP and $90 billion in tax revenue.

“These are our friends, neighbors, and coworkers,” the letter reads, “and they should not have to wait for court cases to be decided to determine their fate when Congress can act now.”

The letter drew support from nearly every major figure in the tech and telecom world, including AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, along with Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

But two major companies were missing: T-Mobile and Sprint.

T-Mobile and Sprint did not respond to requests for comment, but their absence from the letter may have something to do with the proposed merger between the two companies, announced in April and currently under review by the Department of Justice and FCC. The $26 billion deal would shrink the nation’s pool of major wireless carriers to just three, provided neither agency blocks it as anti-competitive. Both T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint’s executive chairman Marcelo Claure have been actively lobbying with Trump administration officials for approval of the merger.

In theory, signing onto a letter of support shouldn’t influence those decisions, but it would fly in the face of many of the president’s most vocally held policies. President Trump has been an outspoken opponent of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) which allows for children who arrived in the US illegally to go to school and work in the country without becoming citizens or fearing deportation.

In 2015, Legere got into a spat with Trump on Twitter, saying that he wasn’t happy with the service at the Trump Hotel in New York City. Trump lashed back, calling T-Mobile’s service “terrible.” Legere responded saying, “I will obviously leave your hotel right away based on this. #checkingout.” Any tweets disparaging Trump have now been deleted from Legere’s Twitter account.

Just last week, the two telecommunications companies ramped up their efforts by hiring former FCC Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to help nudge the deal forward. Legere also penned a letter to current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, promising not to increase consumer wireless plan prices for three years after the merger is finished.

The merger is already facing significant opposition in Congress. On Tuesday, eight top Democrats signed onto letters asking FCC and Justice Department officials to spike the deal. Senators from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) argued the proposed merger would drive up wireless prices and have little effect on 5G deployment.

Legere and other T-Mobile executives have also appealed to Trump’s personal financial interests, booking at least 52 nights at Trump’s DC hotel at $2,246 per night, according to The Washington Post.

Legere and Claure are expected to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow to answer lawmaker questions on the proposed deal.

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