POTUS and top business leaders settled into an uneasy detente after his shock-victory in November. It began to fray Saturday, when a handful of tech executives spoke out against Trump’s order banning U.S. entry to immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Dissent started trickling in from Silicon Valley chiefs as the extent of the ban, issued late Friday afternoon, became clear. With green card-holding employees left stranded abroad—and news reports dominated by reports of refugees from war zones getting detained in American airports—execs from Google, Facebook, Apple, Lyft, and Uber voiced varying degrees of alarm.
A federal judge on Saturday issued an emergency ruling protecting refugees and other immigrants stuck in American airports from being sent back to their countries. But the judge did not grant them entry or address the constitutionality of POTUS’s directive.
“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Google CEO Sunar Pichai wrote in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The travel ban ensnared some 187 Googlers who hail from the countries it targets. “We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so,” Pichai added.
Apple CEO Tim Cook weighed in, as well, writing in his own memo to his workforce that the company—founded by Steve Jobs, the son of immigrants from Syria, one of the impacted countries—“would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.” Writing from Washington, where Cook has been meeting with senior lawmakers and senior Trump hands, Apple’s CEO said some of the iPhone makers’ employees were “directly affected” by the ban. Apple’s human resources, legal, and security teams were doing what they could for them, Cook wrote, and the company has already reached out to the White House to register its objections.