CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies are fighting back against President Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban, calling it un-American and bad for business.
The heads of Apple, Ford and Goldman Sachs said that they don’t support the executive order the president signed last week, which bans immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. Google said it is donating cash to organizations that support immigrants. Other companies said they will help employees affected by the ban or, in the case of Starbucks, hire refugees.
Businesses already have a complicated relationship with Trump, who has been openly critical of companies planning to build plants in Mexico or charge what he sees as too much for fighter jets. Some have announced hiring plans and investments in the US, saying they like Trump’s plans to reduce regulation and lower corporate taxes.
But the corporate reaction to the executive order was strong, quick and harsh. “This is unprecedented,” said Bill Klepper, an adjunct management professor at Columbia Business School in New York.
Trump said the executive order, signed Friday, was necessary to stop “radical Islamic terrorists” from coming to the U.S. It included a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program. The White House did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
It could be risky for businesses to speak out publicly, since Trump likes to fight back and criticize companies from his Twitter account. But public-relations experts said businesses have no choice, especially if the ban negatively affects their employees or customers.
“No company has gone out of business putting their customers and employees first,” said Matt Friedman, co-founder of Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
CEO’S SPEAK OUT
Executives at technology companies, which employ many immigrants, were some of the first to speak out. Tim Cook, the CEO of iPhone maker Apple Inc., told employees in a memo obtained by The Associated Press that his company does not support the order. “Apple would not exist without immigration,” Cook said.
CEOs from e-commerce companies Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc. and Etsy Inc. also said they did not support Trump’s order, as did the head of video-streaming company Netflix Inc.
Coca-Cola Co. CEO Muhtar Kent said the soda maker was against the travel ban, and General Electric Co. CEO Jeff Immelt said the industrial conglomerate would make its “voice heard” with the new administration and Congress.
Ford Motor Co. said it does not support the policy “or any other that goes against our values as a company,” according to a letter signed by the automaker’s CEO Mark Fields and Executive Chairman Bill Ford. General Motors Co. sent a note to employees saying it will support any who can’t return to the US because of the ban. But other automakers, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., were silent.
The auto industry, a frequent target of Trump’s ire for moving jobs overseas, is walking a fine line, trying to avoid punishing tariffs and hoping Trump gives them some relief on corporate taxes and fuel economy standards.
And Goldman Sachs Group Inc., whose former employees are some of Trump’s most trusted advisers, also pushed back.
“This is not a policy we support,” said the bank’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, in a voicemail to employees.