US corporations have joined the international chorus of disapproval over US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry to refugees and citizens of a specified list of Muslim-majority countries, signed into action on January 27. The White House justified the ban on national security grounds, arguing that the countries in question have been compromised by terrorism and thus present a threat to the US.
The 90-day ban, which has been temporarily suspended by US federal judges pending decisions in federal courts, blocked US entry to visa and Green Card holders from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Syria. It also halts entry for all refugees for 120 days, with an indefinite ban on those from Syria. The ban includes dual nationals from those countries who hold another non-US passport.
CEOs and representatives from many of the US’s largest multinational firms, particularly in the tech sector, were quick to issue statements denouncing the ban.
Apple CEO Tim Cook released a letter voicing “deep concern” and reassuring employees that Apple does not support the Trump administration’s policy, offering company aid to any staff affected. “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do,” Mr Cook wrote, saying that the company “reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our co-workers and our company”. Apple’s founder, the late Steve Jobs, was the biological son of a Syrian refugee.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey described the executive order’s humanitarian and economic impact as “real” and “upsetting”, saying: “We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the US.” Salesforce executive Vala Ashfar tweeted a list of companies founded by first- or second-generation immigrants, which included Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Oracle, IBM, Uber, Ebay, and Tesla.
Many US corporations have declined to comment, including several airlines, manufacturers and banks including Delta, American Airlines, GM, Chrysler, Caterpillar, Bank of America and Citigroup. The silence, in some cases, may be indicative of a reluctance to criticise the president for fear of reprisal.
According to a 2011 report by the Partnership for a New American Economy: “45% of high-tech companies in the Fortune 500 were founded by first- or second-generation Americans.”