Tech firms lead protests against Trump travel ban

President Donald Trump’s ban on refuges and travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, which has already alarmed many companies, could be followed by a further immigration order directly affecting technology firms.

Major organisations such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook have already protested against the move by the new administration, which they say violates the principles of the US and risks disrupting its engine of innovation. However, Blomberg reports that a further executive order has already been drafted, which aims to overhaul the work visa programme that tech firms depend on to recruit tens of thousands of employees each year.

Apple’s chief executive officer (CEO), Tim Cook, issued a letter to employees saying Trump’s order was “not a policy we support”, according to Reuters. “We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our co-workers and our company,” Cook wrote.

Coffee chain Starbucks has pledged to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years in response to Trump’s executive order. Its CEO, Howard Schultz, expressed “deep concern” about the move and said he would be taking “resolute” action, starting with offering jobs to refugees.

“We are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,” he wrote in a note to employees. The response was to make clear the company “will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration’s actions grows with each passing day.”

Goldman Sachs’ CEO, Lloyd Blankfein said in a voicemail message to all staff that there is “potential for disruption to the firm, and especially to some of our people and their families.

“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” Blankfein announced. “I want to assure all of you that we will work to minimise such disruption to the extent we can within the law and are focused on supporting our colleagues and their families who may be affected.”

A spokesman for UK business organisation the Institute of Directors (IoD) said: “The sudden, severe and indiscriminate restrictions imposed on passport holders from seven Muslim countries could seriously undermine business and trade.

“Both in the US and the UK, a number of industries including tech rely heavily on highly skilled brainpower from across the world. If businesses are restricted from accessing workers then many companies may have to rethink where they place their key staff in future, and that would ultimately have consequences for the prosperity of that country.”

 

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