Tech firms’ alarm over Donald Trump’s travel ban

Protesters at Dallas/Fort Worth International AirportImage copyright
Reuters

Some of the biggest US technology firms, including Google and Netflix, have expressed alarm over President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions.

On Friday the president signed an executive order barring from the US immigrants and visitors from seven, largely Muslim, countries for 90 days.

The move sparked dismay among US technology firms which employ thousands of Arab and South Asian immigrants.

Airbnb said it would provide free housing to anyone barred from entry.

“Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right and we must stand with those who are affected,” said Brian Chesky, the chief executive of Airbnb, which offers short-term property rental through the internet.

In a post on Facebook , the chief executive of Netflix, Reed Hastings, said: “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all.”

“Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe,” he added.

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Getty Images

In a letter to employees, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the president’s order was “not a policy we support”.

“We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our co-workers and our company,” Mr Cook said.

Google has recalled travelling staff members to the US after the executive order was signed.

The company told the BBC it was concerned about the order and any measures which could block skilled workers from the US.

The new restrictions will have a major impact on technology companies that hire skilled staff from all over the world on special H1-B visas.

Legal challenge

Earlier on Sunday a US judge issued a temporary halt to the deportation of visa holders or refugees stranded at airports following the executive order.

That followed a legal challenge from The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU estimates that between 100 and 200 people are being detained at airports or in transit.

Thousands of people have been protesting at US airports over Mr Trump’s clampdown on immigration.

His executive order halted the entire US refugee programme and also instituted a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Aaron Levie, the founder and chief executive of online storage company Box, said: “The executive order on immigration is immoral and antithetical to our values.”

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