Technology companies have rallied around immigrant workers in the wake of an executive order by US president Donald Trump that prohibits entry by people from seven majority-Muslim nations for 90 days.
Citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya are to be banned from entering the US for the period, while the government determines what information it needs to safely admit visitors.
Already, pressure has been brought to bear and part of the order has been rescinded to allow free movement for immigrants with Green Cards.
Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, committed the company to support its staff members who might be affected by the banning order.
“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,” he wrote. “Our goal as a company is to provide you with legal advice and assistance.”
Microsoft, with an immigrant CEO at the helm, supports immigration and diversity, Smith adds. “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.
“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.”
Microsoft warned shareholders of the possible negative effects on an immigration ban, with a securities filing that cautions immigration restrictions “may inhibit our ability to adequately staff our research and development efforts”.
Google has also spoken out about immigration concerns. “It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” wrote CEO Sundar Pichai. “We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote that Apple, founded by Steve Jobs, the son of immigrants from Syria, “would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do”.
A number of Apple employees would be affected by the order, Cook adds.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also took a stand, saying the US should target security “people who actually pose a threat.
“Expanding the focus of law enforcement beyond people who are real threats would make all Americans less safe by diverting resources, while millions of undocumented folks who don’t pose a threat will live in fear of deportation,” wrote.
Both Zuckerberg and his wife are from families that entered the US as refugees.