Mindful of the the industry's role in global business and the potential impact on the workforce, tech CEOs quickly and publicly condemned the Trump administration's immigration executive order, recalling employees back to the U.S.
But some of the CEOs, immigrants themselves, condemned the order on a more personal level. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who is originally from India said, "I've both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country." Other executives like Box CEO Aaron Levie blasted the order on Twitter before taking to Medium to expand on his belief that the order is "wrong" and "antiethical."
On every level — moral, humanitarian, economic, logical, etc. — this ban is wrong and is completely antithetical to the principles of America.— Aaron Levie (@levie) January 28, 2017
Signed by President Donald Trump Friday night, among other things, the executive order suspended for 90 days the entry of immigrants and non-immigrants into the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries; Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Under the order, valid visa holders and dual citizens will be denied entry to the U.S.
Confusion persisted over the weekend as to who was impacted by the ban. Saturday, a federal judge ordered an emergency stay, allowing people who landed in the U.S. under one of the impacted visas to stay without facing immediate deportation. Judge Ann Donnelly's order impacted 100 to 200 people detained or in transit to U.S. airports, Reuters reports.
On Sunday, Trump officials walked back previous statements and said the order does not impact green-card holders going forward, The Washington Post reports.
The immigration order extends to valid visa holders, including H-1B visa holders, which could have rippling effects across the tech industry. In 2014, 65% of the 65,000 H-1B visas were used for tech jobs, Recode reports. H-1B visa holders are relied upon to fill talent gaps, particularly with niche skill sets, though the program has been widely criticized and was particularly lambasted during the election cycle.
Tech CEOs from companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple, expressed concern for employees and denounced the ban's exclusion of vulnerable populations. Google co-founder Sergey Brin went to the protest at San Francisco International Airport Saturday.
Google cofounder Sergey Brin at SFO protest: "I'm here because I'm a refugee." (Photo from Matt Kang/Forbes) pic.twitter.com/GwhsSwDPLT— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) January 29, 2017
Below are six of many tech companies responding to the ban and taking action to assist impacted employees:
In an email sent to employees Saturday, Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, said the company had already contacted its 76 employees holding visas from one of the seven listed countries who are directly impacted by the ban. Microsoft also offered assistance to anyone else potentially impacted, including green card holders.
In the email, which was shared on LinkedIn by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Smith expanded on Microsoft commitment to a "strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system," which is good for people, business and innovation.
"We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people's freedom of expression or religion," Smith wrote. "And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings."
Friday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai ordered staff impacted by the executive order to immediately return to the U.S., reports Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of the memo to employees.
More than 100 Google employees were impacted by the order, Pichai said. "It's painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues."
In a statement to several media outlets, a Google spokeswoman reiterated Pichai's concern and said Google would continue to make company view's known to officials in Washington and elsewhere.
"We're concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.," the spokeswoman said.
Google also set up a $4 million crisis fund, its largest ever, for four organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, International Rescue Committee and UNHCR, USA TODAY reports.
Friday, in a post on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed concern for the executive order and its potential far-reaching impact.
"The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that," Zuckerberg said. "We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat."
Zuckerberg said drawing law enforcement's attention "beyond people who are real threats" would negatively impact American's safety and divert resources.
In an email sent to employees Saturday, obtained by Recode, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is concerned and does not support the immigration policy.
"I've made it clear that Apple believes deeply in the importance of immigration — both to our company and to our nation's future," Cook said. "Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do."
Apple reached out to the Trump administration to "explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company," Cook said. He also emphasized the need for employees to support one another during the times of uncertainty.
"Apple is open. Open to everyone, no matter where they come from, which language they speak, who they love or how they worship," Cook said. "Our employees represent the finest talent in the world, and our team hails from every corner of the globe."
Box CEO Aaron Levie took to Medium Sunday to express alarm over the immigration and travel ban.
"On basically any level — moral, economic, or logical — this is the wrong thing to do and is antithetical to America's principles," Levie said. "Turning our back on people from countries dealing with major humanitarian crises is against our values, and targeting groups largely based on religion is dangerous and disastrous policy."
Levie said it is clearly time for leaders and organization to be "principled on what America stands for."
"We can't build our companies without amazing talent from all around the world … We can't partner and grow globally without steady and measured action coming from our government."
In an email sent to employees, and obtained by The Verge, Amazon VP of human resources, Beth Galetti said, "from the very beginning, Amazon has been committed to equal rights, tolerance and diversity — and we always will be."
"As we've grown the company, we've worked hard to attract talented people from all over the world, and we believe this is one of the things that makes Amazon great — a diverse workforce helps us build better products for customers," Galetti said.