Updated: January 31, 2017 8:47:58 am
President Donald Trump issued an executive order that stops citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. The order bars entry of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. It even included green card holders, though a court has exempted these citizens for now.
Trump’s executive order, especially the ban on immigrants from these countries, including those with a valid visa, has sparked reactions from all across Silicon Valley, which relies on talent from across the world. Google, Apple, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, Uber, Lyft, Netflix, Microsoft, and all the major companies from tech world have reacted to this order.
Additionally Associated Press has reported that leaks of draft executive orders, which are still unverified, suggest that Trump might also revamp the H1-B program that lets Silicon Valley bring foreigners with technical skills to the US for three to six years.
President Trump’s order has also banned refugees from entering into the country, and the order states that they will be granted entry on a “case-by-case basis,” and that when “they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution.”
We take a look at the reactions of the tech world to President Trump’s executive order.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai in an internal memo told employees, “It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues…We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.” The memo was shared by Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in the note at least 187 Google workers could be affected by Trump’s order. The company has already ordered all of its staff travelling abroad to return to the US as soon as possible. It is not clear how many of those workers are currently outside the US.
“We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that create barriers to bringing great talent to the US,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement.
Sundar Pichai also retweeted an article from Wall Street Journal on how the order has impacted the life of one Google employee. In his tweet he wrote, “For generations, this country has been home to immigrants like Sanaz. Her story is playing out all over the country. Google is with you.”
For generations, this country has been home to immigrants like Sanaz. Her story is playing out all over the country. Google is with you. https://t.co/mllnZ5gNDB
— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) January 29, 2017
Interestingly, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, also turned up at the protests at San Francisco International Airport. However, he didn’t give a comment saying he was attending in personal capacity. But in one quote to Forbes, Brin said he was at the protest because he too was a refugee. His family fled from Soviet Union to United States in the 1970s.
Late Apple founder Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian immigrant to the US, and current CEO Tim Cook has also criticised the order in a memo to employees, pointing out the company wouldn’t even exist today without immigration.
According to a post on Recode, Cook wrote in an email to his staff, “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do…I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support.”
He also quoted Dr Martin Luther King in the note to employees and said, ‘We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.’
He said Apple has reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on their coworkers and company. Apple has not confirmed how many of its employees are affected by the order, but the company’s respective teams are in contact to support these workers.
Microsoft’s response to President Trump’s executive order was somewhat restrained, arguing those who are law-abiding should not be affected.
In a statement on LinkedIn, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who is originally born in India just like Google’s Sundar Pichai, wrote this: “As a company, Microsoft believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system. We also believe in broader immigration opportunities, like the protections for talented and law-abiding young people under the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, often called “Dreamers”.
The statement adds that “immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion. And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings.”
Nadella added in his statement, “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic.” The statement however, doesn’t specifically critcise the policy as such.
Microsoft also said it is providing legal advice and assistance to its employees from the banned countries, noting they are all working in the US lawfully.
Uber is facing a backlash with #DeleteUber trending after Uber drivers were still doing business at the JFK airport, where protests are taking place against President Trump’s orders. However, Uber has apologised for this, and said it didn’t mean to offend anyone.
On its part, Uber CEO has said they will compensate drivers impacted by the ban pro bono for next 3 months.
The company’s statement reads, “Our People Ops team has already reached out to the dozen or so employees who we know are affected: for example, those who live and work in the US, are legal residents but not naturalized citizens will not be able to get back into the country if they are traveling outside of the US now or anytime in the next 90 days. Anyone who believes that this order could impact them should contact our immigration team immediately.”
The statement adds the company is in the process of reaching out to the affected drivers in order to support their families, and reduce the financial impact.
However, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is also one of those along with Elon Musk who will advising Trump’s economic advisory group, which has sparked criticism.
He ended his statement saying, “I understand that many people internally and externally may not agree with that decision, and that’s OK. It’s the magic of living in America that people are free to disagree.”
Uber rival Lyft’s response was sharply critical of President Trump’s order. Lyf co-founder and CEO Logan Green wrote on Twitter, “Lyft has worked hard to create an inclusive, diverse and conscientious community where all our drivers and passengers feel welcome. Trump’s immigration ban is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values.”
Lyft’s blogpost reads, “This weekend, Trump closed the country’s borders to refugees, immigrants, and even documented residents from around the world based on their country of origin. Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the US is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values. We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”
The company has also announced $1 million donation over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ACLU has already challenged Trump’s immigration ban, and raised over $10 million in the last couple of days.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was not afraid to speak his mind against President Trump’s policy and called it ‘un-American’.
His full post on Facebook reads, “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”
Facebook Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook’s CEO Zuckerberg adopted a more cautious tone to the executive order, and didn’t overtly criticise it either, in fact even thanking Trump for his promise to help the Dreamers, namely immigrants who came to the US as children.
He pointed out in his Facebook post that his great grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland, while his wife Priscilla’s parents were refugees from China and Vietnam and that “United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that.”
He added that he was “concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” and that while the country should be kept safe, the focus should be on people “who actually pose a threat.”
“Expanding the focus of law enforcement beyond people who are real threats would make all Americans less safe by diverting resources, while millions of undocumented folks who don’t pose a threat will live in fear of deportation,” he wrote, adding US should allow refugees who need help.
However, he also said he was “glad to hear President Trump say he’s going to “work something out” for Dreamers — immigrants who were brought to this country at a young age by their parents. Right now, 750,000 Dreamers benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows them to live and work legally in the US.”
“I’m also glad the President believes our country should continue to benefit from “people of great talent coming into the country,” he wrote.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted against the policy. He is also an immigrant from South Africa. Musk wrote, “The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges. Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They’ve done right,not wrong and don’t deserve to be rejected.”
Musk later followed it up by tweeting a full draft of Trump’s executive order, and asked people to read the amendments. “Please read immigration order. Lmk specific amendments. Will seek advisory council consensus & present to President.”
Some interpreted the tweet as being conciliatory, and with Musk trying to meet Trump half-way. However Musk pointed out in a reply that this was not the case, and the only hope was the Trump will modify the order.
“There is no possibility of retraction, but there is possibility of modification. It’s just a non-zero possibility. Don’t know more,” he wrote.
Check out his tweets below
The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2017
Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They’ve done right,not wrong & don’t deserve to be rejected.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2017
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2017
Twitter also issued a statement on the executive order. The company’s official handle tweeted, “Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always.”
CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted saying, “The Executive Order’s humanitarian and economic impact is real and upsetting. We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the US.” He said the executive order goes against their principles, and has been retweeting articles critical of order, calling it wrong.
Check out his tweet below
The Executive Order’s humanitarian and economic impact is real and upsetting. We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the U.S. https://t.co/HdwVGzIECt
— jack (@jack) January 28, 2017
Online file sharing company Box’s CEO Aaron Levie has been sharply critical of the order. He wrote on Twitter, “On every level -moral, humanitarian, economic, logical, etc.- this ban is wrong and is completely antithetical to the principles of America.”
On every level -moral, humanitarian, economic, logical, etc.- this ban is wrong and is completely antithetical to the principles of America.
— Aaron Levie (@levie) January 28, 2017
Finally, Amazon has also issued a private email to employees, asking those who are residents of the seven banned countries to not travel outside the US. The email obtained by The Verge says, “Amazon has been committed to equal rights, tolerance and diversity — and we always will be. As we’ve grown the company, we’ve worked hard to attract talented people from all over the world, and we believe this is one of the things that makes Amazon great — a diverse workforce helps us build better products for customers.”
Amazon has asked affected employees even with valid visa, but travelling abroad to contact its legal team.
With Associated Press inputs
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