Tech reacts to Trump’s immigration ban

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Artificial intelligence and the law

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that temporarily halted the admission of refugees, indefinitely banned the admission of refugees from Syria, and stopped citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The American Civil Liberties Union has already filed a legal challenge to the order.

The order is so sweeping that it also includes any green card and visa holders from these countries. So if you were a citizen of these countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. Libya, Yemen and Somalia) and had the bad luck of being outside of the U.S. at the time the order went into effect, you’re now barred from entering the country for at least the next 90 days. Unsurprisingly, that’s already affecting the employees of many of the largest tech companies, which tend to draw from a global talent pool.

Update (6:00pm PT): a federal court in New York has now granted an emergency stay that will allow those who landed in the U.S. with a valid visa (or are currently in transit) to enter the country and stay.

Update (8:00am PT 1/29): White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on NBC’s Meet The Press this morning that the immigration ban “Doesn’t include green card holders going forward,” but anyone traveling back and forth between the included countries would be subject to further screening.

Update (1:45pm PT 1/29): President Trump now says that the U.S. will start issuing visas again over it has reviewed and implemented “the most secure policies over the next 90 days.” He also stressed that he has “tremendous feelings” for those involved in the crisis in Syria, that the media is reporting this whole story “falsely,” and that this is not a Muslim ban. White house cyber security Rudy Giuliani, however, earlier directly called this a Muslim ban in an interview with Fox news.

Update (4:05pm PT 1/29): Department of Homeland Security secretary John Kelly issued a release declaring that lawful permanent residents will be granted entry regardless of the terms of the orders, since it’s in the national interest.

We know that Google already recalled its employees from abroad — though chances are the alert came too late to allow anybody to travel back to the U.S. in time. “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 U.S.,” the company wrote in an official statement. “We’ll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.”

Google co-founder Sergey Brin later joined the protests at SFO:

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, too, yesterday noted in a Facebook post that he is “concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump” though he also added that he was “glad” that Trump was willing “to ‘work something out’ for Dreamers” and that the President “believes our country should continue to benefit from ‘people of great talent coming into the country.’”

Facebook added in a statement today, “We are assessing the impact on our workforce and determining how best to protect our people and their families from any adverse effects.”

Microsoft told us that it is already providing legal assistance to its employees affected by this: “We share the concerns about the impact of the executive order on our employees from the listed countries, all of whom have been in the United States lawfully, and we’re actively working with them to provide legal advice and assistance.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke out in favor of immigration in a post on LinkedIn. “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,” Nadella said.

Nadella also shared a memo from Microsoft’s chief legal officer Brad Smith, in which Smith revealed that at least 76 Microsoft employees are affected by Trump’s order. “But there may be other employees from these countries who have U.S. green cards rather than a visa who may be affected, and there may be family members from these countries that we haven’t yet reached,” Smith added. Smith said he and Nadella would answer employee questions during a question-and-answer session on Monday.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner noted that many Fortune 500 companies are founded by immigrants or their children, and wrote, “All ethnicities should have access to opportunity — founding principle of U.S.” (LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft last year.)

In a memo obtained by TechCrunch, Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company has reached out to employees affected by the order. “In my conversations with officials here in Washington this week, I’ve made it clear that Apple believes deeply in the importance of immigration — both to our company and to our nation’s future,” Cook wrote. “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.”

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sent an email to his team on Saturday afternoon, noting that the order affected about “a dozen or so employees.” He also added that the company will identify and compensate drivers who may be barred from entering the US for the next 90 days pro bono “to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table.” It’s unclear how long it will take for Uber to identify these drivers, though. As a member of Trump’s business advisory group, Kalanick will meet with Trump next week.

You can read his full email below:

From: Travis Kalanick
Date: Sat, Jan 28, 2017 at 1:20 PM
Subject: Standing up for what’s right
To: Uber Team


Team,

Yesterday President Trump signed an executive order suspending entry of citizens from seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—to the United States for at least the next 90 days.

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 U.S., are legal residents but not naturalized citizens will not be able to get back into the country if they are traveling outside of the U.S. now or anytime in the next 90 days. Anyone who believes that this order could impact them should contact immigration@uber.com immediately.

This order has far broader implications as it also affects thousands of drivers who use Uber and come from the listed countries, many of whom take long breaks to go back home to see their extended family. These drivers currently outside of the U.S. will not be able to get back into the country for 90 days. That means they will not be able to earn a living and support their families—and of course they will be separated from their loved ones during that time.

We are working out a process to identify these drivers and compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table. We will have more details on this in the coming days.

While every government has their own immigration controls, allowing people from all around the world to come here and make America their home has largely been the U.S.’s policy since its founding. That means this ban will impact many innocent people—an issue that I will raise this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump’s first business advisory group meeting.

Ever since Uber’s founding we’ve had to work with governments and politicians of all political persuasions across hundreds of cities and dozens of countries. Though we share common ground with many of them, we have had areas of disagreement with each of them. In some cases we’ve had to stand and fight to make progress, other times we’ve been able to effect change from within through persuasion and argument.

But whatever the city or country—from the U.S. and Mexico to China and Malaysia—we’ve taken the view that in order to serve cities you need to give their citizens a voice, a seat at the table. We partner around the world optimistically in the belief that by speaking up and engaging we can make a difference. Our experience is that not doing so shortchanges cities and the people who live in them. This is why I agreed in early December to join President Trump’s economic advisory group along with Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla), Mary Barra (Chairwoman/CEO of General Motors), Indra Nooyi (Chairwoman/CEO of Pepsi), Ginni Rometty (Chairwoman/CEO of IBM), Bob Iger (Chairman/CEO of Disney), Jack Welch (former Chairman of GE) and a dozen other business leaders.

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 Amermaica that people are free to disagree. But whatever your view please know that I’ve always believed in principled confrontation and just change; and have never shied away (maybe to my detriment) from fighting for what’s right.

Thanks,

Travis

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk added his comments via Twitter late on Saturday afternoon. They were not very strongly worded.

In a statement to TechCrunch, a Tesla spokesperson added, “We hope that this temporary action by the Administration transitions to a fair and thoughtful long-term policy.” A small number of Tesla employees are affected by the order.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, in a message to all employees, said that “as an immigrant, US citizen and CEO, I am deeply concerned about the impact of the recent executive order restricting entry into the United States for nationals of seven countries, and I know many of you are as well.”

Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson calls the ban “fundamentally UnAmerican” in a blog post today. “Yesterday marked a solemn day for the United States, as we’ve betrayed one of our most cherished values. For over 200 years, the promise of America has been freedom from oppression and opportunity for those in need. While we’ve made mistakes along the way, we’ve always come to regret relinquishing our values to xenophobia,” Lawson writes. “Yesterday, that beacon of hope and freedom was extinguished, exactly when humanity needs it the most. Globally there are over 60,000,000 displaced people, more than any time since World War II. And today we turned our backs on them.”

Postmates says that it is matching its employees’ donations to the ACLU and International Refugees Assitance Project. “It is evident to myself and the leadership of Postmates that these policies on immigration are morally questionable due to the impact they have on the lives that have been and will be affected,” Postmates founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann writes. “We see them as contrary to the long standing precedent that the United States is a country that welcomes, values and embraces the diversity cultivated through immigration.”

In an emailed statement, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard said that he believes that “The immigration ban imposed by Friday’s executive order is overly broad and its implementation is highly disruptive to fostering a culture of innovation and economic growth.” He added the he believes that “The ban will have an unnecessary negative impact to the health and safety of those affected and their families, not to mention rejecting refugees fleeing persecution, terror and war.”

Here is Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Facebook:

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff sent out the following tweet:

In addition, he sent the following email to all Salesforce employees:

America should not forget who we truly are — a nation of immigrants and a light unto other nations. At Salesforce, we believe in equality for all and must ensure that all people are treated fairly, regardless of race, gender identity, abilities, sexual orientation, religion or national origin.

I’ve heard from many of you who are concerned about the executive order restricting immigration from seven countries. We share these concerns and are monitoring policy and legal changes to better understand their impact and exploring the best options to respond and help.

As always, our immediate concern is our Ohana. We have confirmed with our travel partners that no employees currently traveling are in jeopardy of being unable to re-enter the United States. We will remain vigilant on behalf of all our employees and their families.

If you are currently traveling or have upcoming travel plans, and are concerned about your visa or green card status, please contact the GO Center immediately.

This is an important time for us all to be reminded that Equality is a core value at Salesforce. Regardless of changing conditions in the world around us, we will continue to be guided by this value. Salesforce welcomes all.

Mahalo,
Marc

We haven’t heard from many open source organizations, but the OpenStack Foundation published a statement on Sunday morning, pledging support for its community members.

Several major tech companies have moved to ingratiate themselves with the Trump administration in recent weeks. SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who voiced opposition to Trump during the election season, recently accepted a role advising Trump on economic policy along with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Oracle CEO Safra Catz took a position in the Trump transition team last month.

Oracle has yet to respond to questions about how Trump’s executive order will impact its business. We will update this post as we receive more comments and statements.

It’s worth noting that a number of other tech CEOs and luminaries have also been outspoken about the ban.

Box CEO Aaron Levie, for example, took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the ban.

“We’re very much against the ban and will be working to both protect our employees but also work to make it clear that this is unacceptable and fight it however possible,” Levie also told us in an email.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey criticized the executive order and linked to a statement from the Internet Association, an advocacy group that represents many major tech companies.

Later in the day, Twitter also tweeted the following:

Dorsey is also the CEO of Square. The payments platform issued a statement noting the “contributions of our immigrant-owned small businesses” to the nation’s economy.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky offered a brief statement on Twitter that obliquely referenced Trump’s executive order:

Later in the evening, though, Chesky tweeted that Airbnb will offer free housing to refugees and others who can’t enter the U.S. because of the ban.

Red Hat offered the following as part of its statement:

“Red Hat is strong because of the thousands of diverse voices that comprise our company. Our continued work to advance the technology industry depends greatly on our ability to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world.”

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann gave the following statement to TechCrunch:

“Inclusivity makes our company stronger, and the same is true for this country. We oppose this ban which affects many innocent people, including refugees seeking safety or reuniting with their family. We also strongly support our employees from outside the US.”

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston called Trump’s executive order “un-American.”

Y Combinator‘s Sam Altman today also took to his blog to express his views and implore tech companies to take a public stand. “It is time for tech companies to start speaking up about some of the actions taken by President Trump’s administration,” he wrote and later on added that “if this action has not crossed a line for you, I suggest you think now about what your own line in the sand is.  It’s easy, with gradual escalation, for the definition of ‘acceptable’ to get moved.  So think now about what action President Trump might take that you would consider crossing a line, and write it down.”

Altman did not address the role Y Combinator partner Peter Thiel is playing in the Trump administration. Altman previously defended his decision to keep Thiel as a YC partner after calls for him to be removed from his role at YC.

AppNexus called on the President and Congress to reverse the policy.

Fog Creek CEO Anil Dash called on tech employees to pressure their bosses to take a stand on immigration. Dash published a form letter employees could send to their CEOs:

Meanwhile, investor Chris Sacca is matching donations to the ACLU (and he has upped his offer to match donations to $75,000 now):

Former Facebook CTO and founder of the Salesforce-acquired Quip Bret Taylor, too, is joining the ACLU donation bandwagon:

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison also said he would match donations to the ACLU:

Etsy CEO Chat Dickerson, in response to Re/Code’s Kara Swisher, said that he opposes “excluding people from US based on their nationality or religion, period.”

Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green wrote a letter which went out via email to members of its service, decrying the actions and also committing to donating $1 million to the ACLU, to be provided over the course of the next four years.

We created Lyft to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive and safe.

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 U.S. 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.

We know this directly impacts many of our community members, their families and friends. We stand with you, and are donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU to defend our constitution. We ask that you continue to be there for each other – and together, continue proving the power of community.

John & Logan

Lyft Co-Founders

Prominent VC Fred Wilson broke a months-long silence on Trump to call out the order as “the politics of hate,” and share his commitment to making monthly contributions to the ACLU.

Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes provided the following statement via email:

At Atlassian, our core values are built on openness and inclusion. We believe in creating equal opportunity and access for everyone and I stand against any action that does not support these.

I am shocked and saddened by the impact these restrictions could have on, not only Atlassian employees and their families, but all citizens whose dignity is being trampled.

Atlassian is proud to be a global company with employees from all over the world. We have worked hard to attract the most talented people from across the globe because we believe diversity of thought is critical to our success and helps us create the best possible products for our customers.

Intel offered the following short statement via its official policy blog. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, a member of Trump’s manufacturing policy advisory council, offered a similarly mild statement via his personal Twitter.

We are providing support to potentially impacted employees, all of whom are in this country lawfully.  As a company co-founded by an immigrant, we continue to support lawful immigration.  We will continue to provide any impacted employees with Intel’s full support.

Amazon hasn’t come out with a public press statement, but it did share an email sent to all staff from its vice president of HR, Beth Galetti:

As you may have seen in the news, the administration issued an executive order yesterday that restricts entry into the United States by foreign nationals who were born in, or are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, even if you hold dual citizenship with another country, US permanent residence status or a valid US work visa. US citizens are not impacted by this restriction, which will be in effect for an initial period of 90 days, and may be extended or expanded.

From the very beginning, 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.

Our immediate focus is to make sure you all have the information you need to make travel decisions in the coming days and weeks. Here’s what you need to do now if you are a citizen of any of the countries listed in the order:
• If you currently reside and/or work in the US and are present in the US today, we recommend that you refrain from travel outside of the US until further notice as you may be denied re-entry to the US for the duration of the entry restrictions;

• If you currently work/reside in the US (as a green card holder or on a valid work visa such as an H, L, E, or TN) but are traveling abroad, please contact amazonimmigration@amazon.com. We are working on contingency plans for these employees and will be communicating with them directly;

• If you work for Amazon in another country (and are a citizen of any of the countries listed above) and have current plans to visit the US for business or personal reasons, we advise you to cancel them until the entry restrictions are lifted.

We are committed to supporting all of our employees and anyone in their immediate family who may be impacted by this order, including assistance with legal counsel and support, and will continue to monitor any developments.

Thanks,

Beth

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman tweeted a letter he wrote to employees describing how his grandfather fled Nazi Germany to the U.S. “It’s hard for me to comprehend the underlying motivation and lack of empathy that drove the President’s executive order over the weekend, but know this… we will do everything in our power to help and protect our affected employees,” Stoppelman said.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian also shared his family’s immigration story in a post that called Trump’s order “deeply un-American.”

“I am the son of an undocumented immigrant from Germany and the great grandson of refugees who fled the Armenian Genocide,” Ohanian wrote. “Without them, there’s no me, and there’s no Reddit. We are Americans. Let’s not forget that we’ve thrived as a nation because we’ve been a beacon for the courageous—the tired, the poor, the tempest-tossed.”

Featured Image: Natasha Japp Photography/Getty Images