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Tech Companies Dealing With Effects Of Trump's Immigration Ban

On January 27, Donald Trump signed an executive order to halt immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries for at least 90 days, to ban refugees for at least 120 days, and to prevent Syrians from entering the United States indefinitely. The order's ramifications have already been felt as at least over 100 newborns, families, the elderly, and everyone in between has been detained at airports or stranded in other countries with no way to get back into the U.S. Many tech companies are concerned that this order also threatens to hinder their ability to continue conducting their businesses.

Part of the problem could stem from a loss of talent. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email (according to the Wall Street Journal) that at least 187 of the company's employees will be affected by this ban. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella--an immigrant himself--publicly shared an email showing the company's support for any workers affected by the order. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticized the decision and pointed out that his grandparents emigrated to the United States from Germany, Austria, and Poland. The message from these high-profile companies seems to be that many in the tech industry are immigrants or are descended from recent immigrants, and bans like this one could have prevented some of the world's most influential companies from ever being created.

Further, a study published in March 2016 by the nonpartisan National Foundation for American Policy said that more than half of the country's billion-dollar startups had at least one immigrant founder, while 70% "had at least one immigrant helping the company grow and innovate by filling a key management or product development position." The group recommended making immigration easier, not harder, and said "new immigration restrictions would likely prevent many future cutting edge companies from being established in the United States."

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said something similar in a memo to employees on January 29. The memo--which was published in full by the Oregonian and verified to Tom's Hardware by an Intel spokesperson--reads in part:

First, as the grandson of immigrants and the CEO of a company that was co-founded by an immigrant, we believe that lawful immigration is critical to the future of our company and this nation. One of the founding cultural behaviors at Intel is constructive confrontation where you focus on the issue, and not on the person or organization. The statement we submitted today does just that. It focuses on the issues. We will continue to make our voice heard that we believe immigration is an important part of making Intel and America all that we can be. I have heard from many of you and share your concern over the recent executive order and want you to know it is not a policy we can support.

Even if this ban is reversed, it could scare people from thinking about working in the American tech industry. That's the long-term effect. The short-term effect is that many tech workers might have to worry about their ability to stay in the United States or to come back if they visit another country. Amazon said in an email to employees that they shouldn't travel outside the country if they're already here, that it's working on a contingency plan for employees traveling when the ban hit, and that anyone who lives outside the United States and was planning to visit should put those plans on hold.

AMD told Tom's Hardware that it's advised employees who might be affected by the ban not to travel in or out of the United States:

AMD’s core beliefs around inclusion and diversity fundamentally differ from the views demonstrated in the recent executive order banning travelers from certain countries. AMD believes that a diverse and inclusive workplace benefits our company and fuels innovation, this includes our talented employees from the restricted countries. While we await further clarity from the U.S. Administration on this travel ban, we have advised AMD’s workforce from these countries to cease travel to or from the United States. We fully support all of our foreign-born workforce and will continue working with them to limit any potential personal hardships based on this executive order.

When Tom's Hardware asked Nvidia if it had a statement on the ban, a representative replied: "We do not." The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), of which Nvidia is a member (along with many other companies), did issue a statement that reads in part:

This hasty executive order is unlikely to achieve the desired goal and instead damages the principles that make this country a place immigrants aspire to work. In the short term, it left companies scrambling to aid valuable employees with legal work visas, and in the long term risks our economy and safety.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-political group that works on the internet's architecture and operation, echoed those concerns in its own statement:

The IETF does not make comments on political matters. But we do comment on topics that affect the IETF and the Internet. Specifically, the recent action by the United States government to bar entry by individuals from specific nations raises concerns for us—not only because upcoming IETF meetings are currently scheduled to take place in the U.S., but also because the action raises uncertainty about the ability of U.S.-based IETF participants to travel to and return from IETF meetings held outside the United States.

Other short term effects result from the money and effort tech companies are spending to fight the ban. Lyft pledged $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to fight the executive order. Google reportedly created a crisis fund that will donate up to $4 million to the ACLU, International Rescue Committee, and other rights organizations. Venture capitalists like Chris Sacca, tech executives like Tony Fadell, and others said on Twitter that they would match donations to ACLU. They've donated $260,298 so far, and other members of the tech community have made similar contributions.

That isn't chump change. Nor is the effort it must have taken for Periscope to add a "proudly made in America by immigrants" stamp to its app, or for Playdots to update Two Dots and Dots & Co to encourage donations to ACLU, or for Microsoft, Amazon, and Expedia to support Washington state's suit opposing Trump's order. These efforts are meaningful, but they could also distract from the companies' primary missions. Tech companies are not charities or activist organizations--devoting money and time to this cause means those resources aren't going towards work on the innovations on which the tech industry relies.

Critics have said Trump's order is "cowardly and dangerous," that it's "malevolence tempered by incompetence," and that its principles are "forbidden under human rights law." It's laudable for Silicon Valley to support humanitarian issues, but the tech industry's efforts also lend another form of criticism against the ban: simply, that innovation won't continue at the same pace if the United States closes its borders to the best and brightest minds out there.

  • WRXSTIGuy
    I doubt this ban will have no effect on losing talent in tech companies. Millions of people around the world with engineering degrees are dying to come to the US.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    I predict this comment section will be perfectly civilized.
    Reply
  • dgingeri
    I find it interesting that President Obama did this same thing for 6 months back in 2011, and nobody in the media said a word. President Obama also signed off on the list of countries included in this ban months ago, and yet nobody criticizes him for it. President Trump just enacted what was already set up, and the media goes nuts blaming him for all of it.
    Reply
  • Dark Lord of Tech
    It's been implemented before , MSM just won't put it out there.
    Reply
  • Sveg
    I'm still trying to figure out why these company's didn't do this back when the other side did it for 6 months??
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW50Y7b0v_s
    Reply
  • techy1966
    I see the problem here these CEO people making the wild comments about all of this are totally getting bent out of shape about it all and spreading kitty fud (false information to try to gain public support). They are using the term Immigrant pretty vaguely by saying oh my grand parents came here etc etc. That is not what Trump is trying to stop what he trying to stop is the wild cards getting into the country and killing people. What he is doing is trying to bring the jobs back to the American people. What is doing is trying to make these big companies hire Americans to do the tech related jobs because he knows there are way to many American people unemployed. I think he also trying to stop these companies from out sourcing their labor work to places like India etc etc and bring the jobs back to America.

    But if you believe what these tech companies and others it is the end of the world for them. Yes it will cost them more at the end of the day & I think that is what they are afraid of more than anything. But they are trying to take the focus away from what they are actually afraid of and placing it some where else and it also makes them look good which is good for PR. Trust me these companies do not care about the little guy like they are trying to make it look like all they care about is that bank statement and what Trump is doing will make that statement look a bit worse because they will be forced to hire American Schooled workers that get a higher wage anyone that says different is fooling them selves...thanks
    Reply
  • Dark Lord of Tech
    19235347 said:
    I'm still trying to figure out why these company's didn't do this back when the other side did it for 6 months??
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW50Y7b0v_s

    Nice post , MSM won't put it out there.
    Reply
  • jpishgar
    Hello all. A quick reminder.

    • Keep comments germane to the subject matter of the article in question.
    • Ad hominem (personal) attacks will result in disciplinary action.
    • Keep your comments civil. Easy rule of thumb on this: If you wouldn't say it to your barber, dentist, or restaurant server without knowing their views on the subject before they cut your hair, drill your teeth, or serve you food, reconsider whether or not you should say it.

    Comments in violation will be deleted. Repeat violators will be met with a ban.

    Thanks for complying, and keeping Tom's a nice place to visit and discuss!

    Yours,
    -JP
    Reply
  • dgingeri
    19235384 said:
    Hello all. A quick reminder.

    • Keep comments germane to the subject matter of the article in question.
    • Ad hominem (personal) attacks will result in disciplinary action.
    • Keep your comments civil. Easy rule of thumb on this: If you wouldn't say it to your barber, dentist, or restaurant server without knowing their views on the subject before they cut your hair, drill your teeth, or serve you food, reconsider whether or not you should say it.

    Comments in violation will be deleted. Repeat violators will be met with a ban.

    Thanks for complying, and keeping Tom's a nice place to visit and discuss!

    Yours,
    -JP

    The original story started it, and if those who run this cite want to keep readership and want to keep the forum civil about it, then they'd better not post stories like this with such a harsh bias, especially without showing ALL the FACTS behind it.
    Reply
  • jpishgar
    Nope. Cite the facts you assert are missing. Do not attack the messenger. Dispute the message. Otherwise your comments will be removed. Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement is in effect here.

    -JP
    Reply