Tech Leaders Rebuke Trump’s Travel Ban


Leaders across Silicon Valley have condemned President Donald Trump’s latest immigration rules, which have resulted in derision and protests in the United States and beyond. The executive orders, which suspend refugees from entering the country, and visa holders of seven predominantly Muslim nations, have divided families and left many stricken at airports and abroad.

Tech executives–many of whom opposed Trump’s presidential bid–have remained largely quiet since the New York businessmen took office on January 20. But Trump’s latest move, which has been dubbed a ‘Muslim ban’ in the media, and which has already been temporarily blocked by federal judges, has caused many leaders to take a stand.

“Nothing about this ban makes sense,” said Box CEO Aaron Levie. Uber chief Travis Kalanick, who alongside Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a member of the President’s Strategic and Policy advisory board, has said he will bring up concerns at a meeting later this week.

Musk, whose speculative endorsement of state secretary pick Rex Tillerson has been criticized, is also on the advisory board. He has come out against the order, tweeting that it would adversely affect “strong supporters” of the US.

Kalanick’s company, meanwhile, has been criticized for scrapping surge payments and undermining solidarity among drivers against the rule. It responded by promising to compensate drivers affected by the ban “pro bono for next 3 months,” in a tweet issued yesterday.

Uber’s lead competitor Lyft, meanwhile, donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, a legal NGO fighting the ban. Starbucks has already claimed it will hire 10,000 refugees, while Airbnb will provide free housing to refugees and “anyone not allowed in the US”.

Other dissenters include Stripe’s Patrick Collison, Nest founder Tony Fadell and Andrew Ng, chief executive of Chinese firm Baidu, who declared on Facebook: “To all Researchers: If the US Muslim ban remains, lets move our conferences elsewhere. Science must be open to all.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a message to his employees, stating that Trump’s rule “is not a policy we support.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who has previously rallied against US visa changes, wrote a lengthy statement on Friday against the executive orders. “Like many of you, I’m concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” he wrote.

“We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat,” continued Zuckerberg. “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.

“We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help,” he added. “That’s who we are. Had we turned away refugees a few decades ago, Priscilla’s (Chan, Zuckerberg’s wife) family wouldn’t be here today.”