Trump’s immigration policy is not making himself popular with technology companies, let alone with the rest of the world.
On Friday Trump signed an executive order stipulating that refugees are not allowed to enter America for 120 days. Citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya – are banned from entering the US for 90 days, until the government establishes a new set of requirements for visitors.
It seems that many post-election fears are being fulfilled. Plenty saw it coming. Tech companies are in the tricky position of needing to protect their corporate interests but also support their employees. Yet immigrants have started more than half of America’s tech startup companies that have now grown to dominate the scene. Understandably, a significant number of CEOs took to social media sites like Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) to express their opinions.
Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook sent an email to employees, condemning the action as “not a policy we support.”
Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Mark Zuckerberg states that the “United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that.”
Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) have recalled staff to the US after Trump’s order. Apparently over 100 staff members are affected. They have created a $4 million crisis fund to go to four organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Immigrant Legal Resource Center, International Rescue Committee and UNHCR.
Marc Benioff, of cloud computing company Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), quoted the Bible and thanked the ACLU.
When we close our hearts & stop loving other people as ourselves (MK 12:31) we forget who we truly are—a light unto the nations. #noban
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) January 28, 2017
Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) Elon Musk serves on two boards with Trump, presumably to safeguard his own business interests. This has however likely tempered his reaction to the recent news and his tweets are certainly more lukewarm. He urges his following to read ‘the source material’ of the order, rather than listen to the media’s portrayal. That was following this tweet:
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
An open letter from the Canadian tech community remarks that “Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders.” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had this to say:
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
In non-tech news, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) says it will hire 10,000 refugees in the next five years, in a letter to employees.
This is triggering a drive towards ‘Calexit’, a notion that, if realized, would have California become an independent nation. Perhaps Silicon Valley would be the capital. For now, people are worried that the supposed temporary travel ban is in fact a “Muslim ban”. It is nevertheless sure to have a ripple effect across Silicon Valley, as well as the entire global population.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Emma Harwood, hold no direct investor interest in any company mentioned in this article.