Tech giants pen joint letter to the Trump Administration condemning the Muslim ban

Apple, Google, and Microsoft don’t always agree, but they agree on this.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin at a protest of the Muslim ban at San Francisco International Airport last weekend. He and other tech executives have voiced strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s new policy. Photo via Vassil Mladjov.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin at a protest of the Muslim ban at San Francisco International Airport last weekend. He and other tech executives have voiced strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s new policy. Photo via Vassil Mladjov.

The chief executive officers from several of Silicon Valley’s biggest corporations are planning to submit a letter to the White House jointly denouncing the Muslim ban and defending immigrants as an integral part of their industry and the country at large.

Apple, Facebook, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), and Microsoft are among the corporations behind the letter, according to Recode which obtained a draft copy of the letter.

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“We share your goal of ensuring that our immigration system meets today’s security needs and keeps our country safe,” the letter reads. “We are concerned, however, that your recent executive order will affect many visa holders who work hard here in the United States and contribute to our country’s success. In a global economy, it is critical that we continue to attract the best and brightest from around the world.”

The letter comes less than two months after many of its signatories met with Donald Trump to discuss the tech industry during a meeting at Trump Tower in New York City. At the time, Trump was effusive in his praise for the companies represented.

“There’s nobody like you in the world,” he said. “In the world! There’s nobody like the people in this room.”

It’s unclear if Trump’s tune has changed since taking office. Google co-founder Sergey Brin was among the protesters at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday evening. Brin’s family emigrated from the Soviet Union to escape religious persecution. “I’m here because I’m a refugee,” he told a Forbes reporter.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, an immigrant, said via LinkedIn, “I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world.” And Apple, the most valuable company in the world, was famously founded by Steve Jobs, the son of Syrian immigrants who would have been barred from entering the country if Trump’s Muslim ban had been in place in the 1950s.

Since the ban was announced, companies in Silicon Valley responded with individual statements containing varying degrees of condemnation. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings authored one of the more forceful statements via Facebook, writing “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all.”

The joint letter is just the latest example of the entire tech industry jointly demonstrating a united front against the federal government. After the December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California, Apple refused to cooperate with intelligence agencies in unlocking the iPhone belonging to one of the suspected shooters, arguing that do to so would undermine the privacy of all users. Corporate rivals like Google and Microsoft offered their support, calling the FBI’s request to curtail users’ privacy a “troubling precedent.”

Few industries have the same kind of relationship with immigrants as the tech industry. In the U.S., 13 percent of the population is foreign born, but among tech startup founders in Silicon Valley, that number is 44 percent. More than half of all startups valued at over $1 billion have at least one immigrant founder, and more than 37 percent of all Silicon Valley workers are foreign born. From a practical standpoint, companies are being forced to maneuver the ban to ensure their employees aren’t detained trying to enter the country. Google recalled about 200 of their employees who were traveling overseas at the time of the ban.

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Technology companies aren’t the only corporations taking a stand against Trump’s Muslim ban, either. Ford CEO Mark Fields condemned the ban earlier this week in an interview with Business Insider, and Coca-Cola issued a statement calling the ban “contrary to our core values and beliefs.” Starbucks responded by promising to hire 10,000 refugees for its stores around the world. Even Super Bowl ads have become a platform for pro-immigrant messages. Anheuser-Busch InBev, makers of Budweiser, will air an ad on Sunday focusing on its immigrant founder Adolphus Busch. The ad has been in the works for almost a year, but the timing couldn’t be better.

One other notable signatory to the letter: Uber, which angered many customers after they tried to undermine a work stoppage protest by New York City’s Taxi Workers Association by cutting surge pricing during last weekend’s protest at JFK. Thousands of people deleted their Uber accounts and flocked to Lyft, their biggest competitor. Since then, the company has sought to rectify the situation by making donations to the ACLU and condemning the Muslim ban.