Here’s what tech has to say about Trump’s immigration ban

Google raising $4 million for immigrants caught up in Trump’s ban

Technology industry heavyweights are speaking out and taking action against President Trump’s immigration ban, which is affecting employees at Google, Apple and other US firms.

by Bridget Carey

The ink had barely dried on President Donald Trump’s executive order when the tech industry started speaking out against it.

The order, signed late Friday, temporarily banned immigration from seven countries. As it was being implemented over the weekend, reportedly kicking families off planes and disrupting travel for hundreds of people, tech industry CEOs and their companies began criticizing the move as “un-American,” and vowed to do what they could to ease its affects. Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin, himself a refugee from Russia, even joined a protest at San Francisco International Airport.

The 90-day ban, which has been temporarily halted by a judge, hits immigrants from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya.

Trump on Monday downplayed the response, saying “all is going well.”

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Protestors rally against President Trump’s immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Getty Images

“There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country,” he said in a tweet. “Study the world!”

Here’s how tech companies responded:


“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an internal memo, according to Bloomberg.

The company recalled employees it thought might be affected. It then created a $4 million crisis fund to support immigration causes and published a doodle Monday celebrating immigrant rights activist Fred Korematsu, who was turned away from joining the US National Guard and Coast Guard during World War II because he was Japanese.

Some Google employees held protest rallies outside the company’s various offices around the world, posting to social media with the hashtag, #GooglersUnite.


Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a letter to employees, saying his company “would not exist without immigration,” a seeming reference to co-founder Steve Jobs’ Syrian heritage.

Here’s the text of his memo:


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. Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.

I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support.

There are employees at Apple who are directly affected by yesterday’s immigration order. Our HR, Legal and Security teams are in contact with them, and Apple will do everything we can to support them. We’re providing resources on AppleWeb for anyone with questions or concerns about immigration policies. And we have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company.

As I’ve said many times, diversity makes our team stronger. And if there’s one thing I know about the people at Apple, it’s the depth of our empathy and support for one another. It’s as important now as it’s ever been, and it will not weaken one bit. I know I can count on all of you to make sure everyone at Apple feels welcome, respected and valued.

Apple is open. Open to everyone, no matter where they come from, which language they speak, who they love or how they worship. Our employees represent the finest talent in the world, and our team hails from every corner of the globe.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”



Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been critical of Trump’s rhetoric in the past, using a speech during one of his company’s most high-profile events of the year to argue against the campaign’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico.


Uber faced a barrage of criticism when CEO Travis Kalanick joined a strategic forum of business leaders advising Trump. Then, on Saturday, the company appeared to break a strike as the mostly immigrant New York Taxi Workers Alliance stopped service to and from the airport in solidarity with protesters. That helped fuel the #DeleteUber hashtag, which trended on Twitter over the weekend.

Kalanick issued a statement on the immigrant ban Saturday that was seen by some as lightly critical, if that. On Sunday, Kalanick issued yet another statement, this one more critical, calling it “unjust” and pledging to create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services.


“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,” wrote Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He also published an internal email from Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to reach out regarding the Executive Order signed yesterday in the United States relating to immigration. As you may have read in the press, this Order applies an immediate 90-day moratorium on admissions and reentry into the United States of all individuals who are not already U.S. citizens from seven countries – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.

Our first priority whenever there is a change in immigration laws anywhere in the world is to address immediately the needs of our employees and their families. So most importantly, if you or a family member are a citizen of one of these seven countries and you’re not yet a U.S. citizen, I have some specific information for you.

Our goal as a company is to provide you with legal advice and assistance. We’re aware of 76 Microsoft employees who are citizens of these countries and have a U.S. visa and are therefore affected by this new Order. We’ve already contacted everyone in this group. 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. So if this impacts you or a family member and we haven’t yet been in contact with you, please send an email right away to the CELA U.S. Immigration Team. And of course, if you’re uncertain about whether you’re affected, use this same alias and let us know so we can work with you and answer your questions.

As we have in other instances and in other countries, we’re committed as a company to working with all of our employees and their families. We’ll make sure that we do everything we can to provide fast and effective legal advice and assistance.

More broadly, we appreciate that immigration issues are important to a great many people across Microsoft at a principled and even personal level, regardless of whether they personally are immigrants. Satya has spoken of this importance on many occasions, not just to Microsoft but to himself personally. He has done so publicly as well as in the private meetings that he and I have attended with government leaders.

As a company, Microsoft believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system. We also believe in broader immigration opportunities, like the protections for talented and law-abiding young people under the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, often called “Dreamers”. We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion. And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings.

We believe that these types of immigration policies are good for people, good for business, and good for innovation. That’s why we’ve long worked to stand up for and raise these issues with people in governments. We will continue to do that.

There’s a monthly Employee QA scheduled for Monday. Both Satya and I look forward to addressing these topics further at that time. And we’ll continue to monitor all of these issues and work closely with employees and families that are affected.




Netflix CEO and Facebook board member Reed Hastings called Trump’s move “un-American.”


Twitter investor Chris Sacca also said he’d donate $150,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is fighting the ban.


Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos on Monday told employees affected by the order that “the full extent of Amazon’s resources are behind you.”

A quick update on where we are. This executive order is one we do not support. Our public policy team in D.C. has reached out to senior administration officials to make our opposition clear. We’ve also reached out to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to explore legislative options. Our legal team has prepared a declaration of support for the Washington State Attorney General who will be filing suit against the order. We are working other legal options as well.

We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years. No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants. It’s a distinctive competitive advantage for our country — one we should not weaken.

To our employees in the U.S. and around the world who may be directly affected by this order, I want you to know that the full extent of Amazon’s resources are behind you.

Amazon’s VP of HR Beth Galetti sent a note to employees over the weekend, saying the company is committed to equal rights.

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 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.


The ride-hailing company, which competes with Uber, said it will donate $1 million to the ACLU over 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 LoganLyft Co-Founders




The home-sharing service’s CEO, Brian Chesky, offered free housing to refugees and anyone else recently barred from entry to the US.

Here’s an email he sent to his team:

Yesterday the President of the United States signed an executive order limiting immigration and travel into the US for certain people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

This is a policy that I profoundly disagree with and it is a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb.

We believe that you should be able to travel to and live in any community around the world. This is what we mean when we say anyone should belong anywhere. If we want this is to more than just something we put on a plaque, we have to take action. So here is some of the action we are taking.

Within hours of the order, we were in touch with those people on our team who we know are impacted, not just to offer help and resources but to make clear that they have the unwavering support of everyone at this company. We also reached out to our team members who are not affected by the order but who work in the US on visas and green cards to inform them that the same resources and support will be available to them.

To everyone here, if you believe this executive order could impact you, please let us know as soon as possible so that Employee Experience team can support you. You can contact Gaby Laherran or your Talent Partner with any questions. This is obviously a dynamic situation (for example, late this evening, a judge issued an emergency stay about part of the policy) and our team is vigilantly tracking these developments.

Living up to our mission means supporting our global community, as well. Thanks to the dedication of Joe Gebbia and others, we’ve partnered with and supported organizations dedicated to the needs of refugees around the world since 2015. Airbnb has offered free housing to hundreds of relief workers serving on the front lines of the global refugee crisis. We launched a donation tool on our website to make it easy for our community to join us by financially contributing to UNHCR to meet the most pressing needs, an effort that has helped raise over $1.6 million thus far.

In light of this new policy, however, we must do more. It’s why I announced tonightthat Airbnb is now providing free housing to refugees and anyone recently barred from entering the US. We have an internal team working on this in coordination with key partners to identify needs and will have more information for everyone soon.

Barring refugees and people who are not a threat from entering America simply because they are from a certain country is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected. The doors to America shall remain open, and any that are locked will not be for long.


Hiroshi Mikitani, head of the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, said his company’s Viber messaging service will offer free international calls from the US to all the banned countries.


GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath tweeted that the ban was wrong, adding “We make progress together, not apart.”

Here’s the company’s statement:

Each and every day, we see the power of what can be built through diverse and open communities, both in the digital world and in the real world. The collective creation of the world, and our future, depends on inclusion and diversity. We believe in fostering a spirit of unity and are opposed to the discrimination or barring of anyone solely based on religious beliefs or national identity. We are proud that the GitHub community hails from around the globe, and we will always stand up to defend that diversity.




The travel site’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, immigrated to the US from Iran after the revolution of 1978. He talked about his feelings in an email to employees.

By now you’ve received Nikki’s email regarding our employee base. Please know that we will do everything and anything we can do in our power to help ease any pain or difficulties that you are having as a result of the recent presidential order regarding travel into the U.S. If you are not getting the help that you need, please email me or Nikki so we are aware and can try to assist.

As you know, the rallying cry for our company this year is to Go Global. We believe that, in becoming a company that is satisfying travel demand all over the world, we become a stronger, better, smarter company. Our assets in this growth, our winning formula, is in our people, you. And we believe that, in order to Go Global, to provide that magical travel research, booking and fulfillment experience to a customer in Milwaukee or Newcastle or Penang or Fortaleza or Tunis, we have to understand their needs and wants, we have to understand THEM. This requires us to have a perspective that is broad and balanced, one that considers the near term benefit of serving our core customer, but one that also plays the long game, that brings in new customers into our global marketplace, stretches our services a bit, creates a bit of complexity, but ultimately makes us so much better as a wholistic entity. This requires us to have an employee base which is broad, compassionate, entrepreneurial, and always seeking out different ways of getting things done.

My family emigrated to the U.S. after the Iranian revolution in 1978. We sure didn’t feel like refugees, but in hindsight I guess we were – my father and mother left everything behind to come here – to be safe and give their boys a chance to re-build a life. I remember my father taking us to meeting with lawyers, interviews with immigration officers, doing everything he could to get us that treasured Green Card – and the happiness, the sense of relief, when he finally did – we knew that we were welcome now, and we would be welcome tomorrow.

I believe that with this Executive Order, our President has reverted to the short game. The U.S. may be an ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary.

We, as a company, however, will continue to play the long game. We will do our part to bring travelers from all over the world together to learn about the other, the new and unknown, the uncomfortable. We will look to hire a talent pool and leadership which is truly balanced and global and inclusive.


Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, published his statement on Medium.

At Autodesk, we value diversity of opinion, experience and background. It helps us create great products and be competitive in a tough market. Our team is made up of men and women from a variety of countries of origin, with a variety of religious backgrounds, and their differing experiences create a strong whole, able to see the needs of customers from around the world. Simply, immigration is important for our business.

So when President Trump filed Friday’s executive order on immigration, it hit close to home for us here at Autodesk and for me personally. As the grandson of immigrants, I know how important a welcoming United States is to so many. And working alongside immigrants throughout my career, I know how important it is to have that diversity of experience and background on a team.

This isn’t just a Silicon Valley issue. This is an issue for every region of our country, and every industry in which we compete. We won’t be successful as a nation with policies like these; our economy and our security rely on being both strong and welcoming. Those are the American values I believe in. That’s the America I want to live in, and support.

We stand for diversity, inclusion, and openness at Autodesk. We will stand with our employees, regardless of where they were born, or how they worship. And we do not support President Trump’s stance on immigration.



The food delivery company promised free food for any lawyers, advocates and groups that were working over the weekend to help refugees.

Computer Communications Industry Association

The CCIA is a prominent lobbying group whose members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, eBay, chipmaker Nvidia and Firefox maker Mozilla.

We are concerned by the continuing confusion over the Administration’s immigration order covering both visa holders and refugees. We appreciate the checks and balances of our judicial system, but the disregard for legal norms and due process shown by the Administration in issuing this order is alarming.

This hasty executive order is unlikely to achieve the desired goal and instead damages the principles that make this country a place immigrants aspire to work. In the short term, it left companies scrambling to aid valuable employees with legal work visas, and in the long term risks our economy and safety.

Many of our industry’s most successful companies were founded by immigrants. Immigrants help our industry to export goods and services around the world while creating jobs here at home. Targeting lawful U.S. residents and visa holders for discriminatory treatment based on their national origin or faith is not in our national interest. It is not in our economic interest. It is not who we are.

We strongly support legislative efforts to reform our immigration policies to better serve the nation’s needs, and look forward to undertaking this important task in cooperation with Congress and the Administration.

Consumer Technology Association

The CTA, which is most known for throwing the annual CES expo each year, said the move “hurts our nation.”

We appreciate and understand the superseding role of the President in fighting terrorism. However, blocking access en masse of employees of U.S. companies who are lawful visa and green card holders based on religion or national origin raises constitutional issues, hurts our nation – both morally and economically – and runs counter to our country’s long-standing values. Preventing the best and brightest from entering our country undercuts one of America’s competitive advantages. Immigrants are vital to our nation’s economic vitality – indeed, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. While we will work with the administration to enhance our national security, we must do so in a way that does not undercut our unique economic dynamism and global moral leadership.

Entertainment Software Association

The ESA, which represents much of the video game industry in Washington, urged caution.

The Entertainment Software Association urges the White House to exercise caution with regard to vital immigration and foreign worker programs. As a leading force in technology and exporter of entertainment, the U.S. video game industry thrives on the contributions of innovators and storytellers from around the world. While recognizing that enhancing national security and protecting our country’s citizens are critical goals, our companies rely on the skilled talent of U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants alike. Our nation’s actions and words should support their participation in the American economy.


More than 400 tech leaders signed a letter in opposition to the ban, organized by the nonprofit that advocates on behalf of the New York tech sector.

President Trump:

We are business leaders and investors from New York City’s robust and growing technology sector. Among the reasons we proudly build and grow companies here in New York City is the rich diversity the city and its residents provide. We write out of concern that your recent executive orders will undermine that and send a dangerous message to all immigrants that they are not welcome here.

America has long provided homes and futures to millions who dared to share in our collective dream. There is nowhere this is more true than New York City–home to EllisIsland, the Statue of Liberty, and more foreign-born immigrants than any other city in the world. Your executive orders suspending entry for citizens of certain countries, even those who currently have legal status, along with limiting the refugee program, threaten those immigrants who are our current and future neighbors, friends, colleagues, customers, and even bosses. Their presence is a crucial ingredient that sets New York City apart and a fundamental reason why we have all chosen to build our careers and companies here.

In addition to all of the humanitarian reasons to welcome refugees, it is dangerous to discourage immigration when the facts show that immigrant entrepreneurs play a significant role in the American economy. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as the native-born population. Immigrant entrepreneurs started, in whole or in part, some of the most important technology companies of our time including LinkedIn, Tesla Motors, Zipcar, Google, Intel, Yahoo!, eBay, and WhatsApp. More than half of the companies on the current list of U.S. technology startups valued at $1 billion or more were started by immigrants.

We should be doing everything in our power to attract these entrepreneurs to the UnitedStates. Yet when we close the door to immigrants from certain countries, not to mention to refugees, we are telling all immigrants that they are not welcome here.

We are confident that we can achieve security without threatening the inclusivity and diversity at the heart of New York City–and the United States. We encourage you to rescind your recent executive orders.


A Canadian tech startup news service called BetaKit has organized an open letter “from the Canadian tech community,” signed by about 150 members.

Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici. The Canadian tech community comprises many different nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, mental and physical abilities, and perspectives. We believe that this diversity is a source of strength and opportunity.

On this topic, we are united.

Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders. In choosing to hire, train, and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy. By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world.

The 21st century will be driven by pluralistic economies powered by pluralistic societies.

This is a belief founded upon personal experience for many in our community. Many Canadian tech entrepreneurs are immigrants, are the children of immigrants, employ and have been employed by immigrants.

As connected economies, decisions by the United States can directly impact every business north of the border. The recently signed Executive Order to block entry of citizens from seven countries has already impacted several in our community. As a community, we are all affected.

As a community, we stand together in opposition to the marginalization of people based on their birthplace, race, or religion.

The Canadian tech community supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s message that Canada will and must remain inclusive to all nationalities. We also stand directly opposed to any and all laws that undermine or attack inclusion, and call on Prime Minister Trudeau and our political leaders to do the same.

The Canadian tech community also calls on the Canadian federal government to institute an immediate and targeted visa providing those currently displaced by the US Executive Order with temporary residency in Canada. This visa would allow these residents to live and work in Canada with access to benefits until such time as they can complete the application process for permanent residency if they so choose. We encourage provincial and municipal governments across Canada to lend support as they can.

Diversity is our strength. We, as Canadians, recognize our privilege as a prosperous nation. We believe providing refuge to people seeking safety should remain our compass.

In the hours following the US decision, many members of our community have privately shared personal stories of their immigrant experience. We ask them now to share those stories publicly so they may be amplified.

Update, 12:30 p.m.: Adds Autodesk CEO comments.
Update, 1:43 p.m.:
Adds Amazon and DoorDash CEO comments.
Update, 2:15 p.m.: Adds Expedia CEO comments.
Update, 4:15 p.m.: Adds BetaKit comments.

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