Microsoft, Google sound alarm over Trump's ban on Muslim country immigration

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Microsoft, Google sound alarm over Trump's ban on Muslim country immigration

Leaders from the US technology industry, a major employer of foreign workers, hit back on Saturday at President Donald Trump's sudden executive order on immigration, with some leaders calling it "immoral" and un-American.

Trump's order temporarily bars citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States even if they hold valid visas or permanent residence permits, a move that caught many companies off-guard and has led to chaos at US airports with people being detained trying to enter the country.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said in a widely shared post on LinkedIn: "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. We will continue to advocate on this important topic."

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings called it "a sad week" and added: "It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity."

Apple chief executive Tim Cook sent a letter to employees saying Trump's order was "not a policy we support" and promised to help affected employees. "We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company," Cook added.

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

Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist at Salesforce, took to Twitter to point out how immigrants had forged the American tech sector.

Stranded

Friday's order could be a major headache for tech companies, potentially leaving employees stranded overseas and unable to return to the United States.

Alphabet's Google urgently called back employees from overseas and told ones who might be affected by the ban not to leave the United States.

CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to staff that more than 100 Google employees were affected by the order, according to a Google executive.

One Google employee of Iranian nationality with legal US residency made it back to the United States just hours before the order took effect, the executive said.

"We're concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.," Google said in a statement.

Microsoft chief legal officer Brad Smith said in a company-wide email posted on LinkedIn that 76 company employees were citizens of the seven countries in question and held US work visas, and thus were directly affected by the order.

He said the company had not determined how many people with green cards, or permanent residence status, might be affected.

"As a company, Microsoft believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system," Smith said in the email. "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'."

Smith also said: "We believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings."

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, who has faced criticism from some employees for participating in President Trump's business advisory council, said in a statement on Saturday that the company would compensate drivers from the seven countries who might not be able to return to the United States for three months or more. He said the company knew of about a dozen employees who would be affected.

"This ban will impact many innocent people - an issue that I will raise this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump’s first business advisory group meeting," Kalanick said.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday that he was "concerned" about the order and voiced support for immigrants.

Reporting by Joseph Menn, Kristina Cook and Julia Love; Writing by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Alan Crosby and Bill Rigby

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