Tech executives speak out: the Muslim ban is bad for business and the country

Business leadership at Netflix, Facebook, and Apple say the ban will hurt their companies and won’t make the U.S. safer.

A protester holds a sign at San Francisco International Airport during a demonstration to denounce President Donald Trump’s executive order that bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in San Francisco.
A protester holds a sign at San Francisco International Airport during a demonstration to denounce President Donald Trump’s executive order that bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in San Francisco.

A number of executives for major tech companies spoke out against the Muslim ban over the weekend, saying their businesses could not function without immigrants and that it was a “sad day” for America.

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting migration from Muslim-majority countries, including from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and prohibited these nationals from entering the country for at least the next 90 days. Refugee admission has been suspended for at least 120 days.

On Saturday, a federal judge ruled in favor of a temporary restraining order preventing those currently being held at U.S. airports from being deported. It was not a final ruling on the constitutionality of the executive order.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

On Friday afternoon, Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook that the U.S. should focus on those who “actually pose a threat.” It was unclear exactly who Zuckerberg thought would 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,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That’s who we are.”

He added that his wife’s family came to the U.S. as refugees.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

In an email to Apple employees, Cook said Apple does not support Trump’s executive action and that the company, which was founded by Steve Jobs, the son of a Syrian immigrant, “would not exist without immigration.” Cook added:

“There are employees at Apple who are directly affected by yesterday’s immigration order. Our HR, Legal and Security teams are in contact with them, and Apple will do everything we can to support them. We’re providing resources on AppleWeb for anyone with questions or concerns about immigration policies. And we have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company.”

Lyft CEO Logan Green and CEO of Lyft President and Co-founder John Zimmer

The Lyft executives also sent an email to employees decrying the policy.

“We stand firmly against these actions, and we will not be silent on issues that would threaten the values of our community,” they wrote.

Lyft executives’ decision to speak out against the ban is particularly significant given the decision of its business rival, Uber, to suspend surge pricing from JFK. This decision lessened the effectiveness of the New York City Taxi Worker’s Alliance’s action to stop all airport pickups on Saturday. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will also part of the Trump administration’s economic advisory group. As a result, people are protesting the Muslim ban by deleting their Uber app and #DeleteUber is trending on Twitter. When you delete the app, and tell Uber it is for the purpose of protesting against the ban, this is the response:

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith

Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith sent an email to employees opposing the ban on Saturday. Smith wrote:

“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, often called “Dreamers”. 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.”

Nadella posted this part of Smith’s email on LinkedIn and added, “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world.”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

The CEO of the popular video-streaming company posted a statement on Facebook Saturday. Hastings said Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the globe. He added that the ban will make America less safe:

“Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”

Other executives who have spoken out against the ban include Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, LinkedIn CEO Jeffrey Weiner, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff.