The honeymoon between Donald Trump and the tech industry came to an end this weekend, as various companies denounced the executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a memo to his workforce saying his company “would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.” Apple’s founder Steve Jobs was, famously, the son of an immigrant from Syria, one of the now-blacklisted countries. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the U.S. should focus its security measures on “people who actually pose a threat.”
Some companies went beyond words. Google gave $2 million, to be matched by $2 million from employees, to the ACLU to help people affected by the order. The company says the order affects 187 of its employees. The co-founders of Lyft pledged $1 million (it was a good weekend for ACLU fundraising). Uber came under fire for alleged “strikebreaking” when Muslim taxi drivers in New York went on strike, prompting CEO Travis Kalanick to email employees. Airbnb offered free housing to refugees and anyone else affected by the ban.
IBM’s senior vice president of human resources sent a memo to workers saying: “As IBMers, we have learned, through era after era, that the path forward – for innovation, for prosperity, for civil society – is the path of engagement and openness to the world. Our company will continue to work and advocate for this.” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he would look to hire 10,000 refugees in stores worldwide.
Opposition to the Trump order also came from the billionaire Koch brothers, who fund conservative organizations. “We believe it is possible to keep America safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,” said Brian Hooks, co-chairman of the Koch network. “The travel ban is wrong, and will likely be counterproductive.”
In an apparent effort to calm the backlash, President Trump said the U.S. would resume issuing visas to all countries once secure policies are put in place over the next 90 days, and once again blamed the media for the fracas.