Levin, Holtzman, 183 Other Bio Leaders Urge White House to Preserve DACA

Xconomy National — 

Biotech CEOs Jeremy Levin and Steve Holtzman are continuing their recent push to spur the life sciences industry to speak out against government policies it doesn’t agree with.

Levin, CEO of Ovid Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OVID) and Holtzman, the head of Decibel Therapeutics, co-authored a letter to the Trump administration and congressional leaders asking them to preserve the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA). The letter, released Thursday afternoon, has been co-signed by 183 other leaders in the biotech industry so far, including CEOs, venture capitalists, and executives at academic centers. It hews closely to an open letter from “Leaders of American Industry,” including many top tech CEOs, released in late August.

DACA protects “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, from deportation and grants them work permits. The policy was signed into law by President Obama in 2012 and since that time, close to 800,000 people have been approved for the program, according to statistics from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration, via attorney general Jeff Sessions, announced plans to end the program in six months, unless Congress can come up with legislation to fix it. Levin and Holtzman are imploring Trump to change his mind.

“We, the 185 signatories to this letter, are entrepreneurs and business leaders in the biotechnology industry,” the letter reads. “We are deeply concerned about new developments in immigration policy that threaten the future of young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. We ask you to reconsider your decision to rescind the DACA program.”

Dreamers are “vital to the future of our companies in the biotechnology [BR1] industry,” they write. “With them, we grow and create jobs. Dreamers are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage and the world’s leading biotechnology industry.”

As Xconomy reported previously, Levin and Holtzman have decided to take a more active role in calling on their peers to speak out following the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, VA, last month. The two were disappointed with what had largely been silence from the life sciences industry in the aftermath of the violence, death, and President Trump’s subsequent reaction to the situation, in which he equated the behavior of neo Nazis and the KKK with that of counter protestors. They have called on their peers to, as Holtzman said in an interview, “step up” by making their voices heard when they disagree with government policies.

You can read the full text of the DACA letter, and the list of biotech names that signed it, here.