Donald Trump’s executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries has made a lot of people upset. Immigrant communities are most directly affected, of course, and the policy inspired spontaneous protests at airports across the country this weekend.
But some of the most consequential opponents may be business groups. Over the past four days, many American companies — including iconic brands Ford, Coca-Cola, and Apple — have denounced Trump’s policy.
Businesses normally try to stay out of politics, but several factors inspired these companies to speak out. Some have angry customers pressuring them to oppose the policy. Others rely heavily on immigrant employees. And many CEOs are motivated by personal conviction.
The business backlash is significant because the business community has a lot of influence in Washington, DC — and especially among Trump’s Republican allies in Congress.
At the same time, some of the most powerful business groups have been notably silent in the face of Trump’s immigration order. Take the US Chamber of Commerce, for example, which has traditionally lobbied for more liberal immigration laws. When I asked them for a comment on Trump’s immigration order, they were noncommittal.
“At the moment we are focused on the reports we have gotten from companies understandably confused with regard to the status of green card holders and dual nationals, and we hope the administration can quickly clarify how these will be handled,” a spokesperson told me.
Several other business groups have also kept a low profile on this issue. Their silence blunts the impact of individual companies’ statements on the issue. It’s true that individual companies have lobbyists who can push for changes to Trump’s policies. But the business community has more power when it is unified. And there’s little sign of that happening so far.
The technology sector is a hotbed of anti-Trump sentiment
The business backlash against Trump’s policy is much broader than technology companies, but opposition is fiercest in tech. Almost every major American technology company — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Salesforce, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, and many others — has put out a statement condemning Trump’s policy (though Gizmodo panned IBM’s statement as “embarrassingly weak”).
Julie Samuels leads Tech:NYC, a group that — as the name suggests — represents technology companies and investors with connections to New York City. She drafted a letter to the president that was signed by more than 400 technology leaders.
Samuels has drafted a lot of letters like this over the years, and normally it’s a grind to round up signers. But she told me this time was different. “In less than 12 hours we got over 400 signatures from New York CEOs and investors,” she said. And she said “not a single person” expressed opposition to the letter.
“The diversity of our employees is what makes our organization so great,” said Shutterstock CEO Jon Oringer, one of the letter’s signers. “We depend on people from different parts of the world, different cultures, to help us every day to achieve our goals.”
Brian O’Kelley, CEO of the ad technology company AppNexus, also signed. He told me the order is a “basic violation of what the country stands for to discriminate against people from certain countries.”
A lot of big technology companies were co-founded by immigrants, and virtually all of them have immigrant employees. That not only means that Trump’s immigration order could hurt their future recruitment, it also means these companies have a lot of current employees whose friends and family could be affected.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin attended Saturday’s…
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