Skip to Content



Tech Giants' Response to Trump's Immigration Policy Mostly Conservative

January 29, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:36 AM UTC

But some called the policy “un-American."

[THEME MUSIC] ANDREW NUSCA: Welcome to Fortune Tech Debate, where we debate the issues of the day in two minutes. Today, we're talking about the tech industry's response to Trump's immigration policy. All right. Let's put two minutes on the clock. Take it away, Bob. ROBERT HACKETT: OK. So this weekend, President Trump signed an executive order banning foreign nationals from traveling to the US from seven countries. ANDREW NUSCA: Yeah-- Iraq, Syria, Somalia, et cetera. ROBERT HACKETT: Exactly. Africa, and Middle East. And the business response so far to this policy has been kind of tepid. It's been measured, controlled-- people have said that they don't support it. Maybe they're upset with it, but they haven't really come out very strongly against that. ANDREW NUSCA: I think it has been embarrassingly conservative in terms of the response. Look, these are tech companies. They live and die by visas. They hire engineers from other countries. ROBERT HACKETT: So important for their employment progress. ANDREW NUSCA: And so many of their comments were just so restrained. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella said that the company would continue to advocate for immigration, and that he was-- he is an immigrant. And it didn't really use too much strong language. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg merely said that he was concerned and that his wife is the daughter of immigrants. Great. ROBERT HACKETT: [INAUDIBLE] ANDREW NUSCA: I guess. ROBERT HACKETT: Good. ANDREW NUSCA: I mean, Google-- Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, said that it would be a terrible thing for the company's employees. But I'm just surprised that more didn't draw a line in the sand and say, look, this is just something that we do not support as an industry and we won't live with. ROBERT HACKETT: Well, hold on, because there are some people who actually did come out with a more forceful response. If you look at Google co-founder Sergey Brin, he actually showed up to the airport in San Francisco-- ANDREW NUSCA: He did. ROBERT HACKETT: --joining the protest. ANDREW NUSCA: But to be fair, he noted that he was not acting in the company's interest. [INTERPOSING VOICES] ROBERT HACKETT: That's true. He was just acting in a personal capacity. But also if you look at Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, he actually called the policy un-American. I mean, that's a pretty unequivocal statement. You know where he's coming from there. ANDREW NUSCA: And it is. But at the same time this is such a big issue. It's always-- Fortune CEOs-- Fortune 500 CEOs tell us that this is perpetually a big issue for them, that they can't get the right town or they have to retrain talent in the United States. Tech industry relies on these folks. And I'm just surprised that the CEOs didn't come out and take a stronger stand, because it's going to affect their ability to negotiate more too. ROBERT HACKETT: I think they're playing wait and see. They're going to be a little bit restrained. And then they're going to air their opinions to Trump on the Business Council, where they actually advise him behind closed doors. ANDREW NUSCA: It's a mistake, but we're out of time. All right. Come to for more Tech Debate. [THEME MUSIC]