Using his newly-acquired executive fiat, President Donald Trump declared a ban on immigrants from seven Muslim majority nations, including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen blocking all refugees from entering the US for 120 days. In Syria’s case, the suspension is indefinite.
The Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” by President Donald J. Trump has been described by many as a war on Muslim refugees around the world. While civil libertarians reacted with fury to what was seen as a strike against American ideals of welcoming refugees and immigrants, concern in Silicon Valley centered on the fallout of the executive order on its globalized work-force, particularly if the orders are enforced randomly.
In television interviews explaining the ban, Trump said travelers from Muslim-majority countries left out of the ban — Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia — will face what he called “extreme vetting,” while dismissing concerns that his actions will inflame tensions in the Muslim world.
“The world is as angry as it gets,” the President countered. “What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger?”
The US tech industry, substantially staffed with immigrants, was thrown into a tizzy last week. Immigrants make up much of the workforce in Silicon Valley, including many executive roles, and the tech industry has long advocated for more open immigration laws in the U.S., saying they need more skilled foreigners to fill technical jobs.
The new restrictions will have a major impact on American technology companies that hire skilled staff from all over the world on special H1B visas, mostly used by Indian IT firms.
“There have already been reports of green card holders, who are allowed to work in the U.S., being prevented from getting on flights. However, green cards are not specifically mentioned in the executive order,” the Wall Street Journal said. After pressure from across the nation, the White House has stated that Green Card holders will be allowed entry into the country.
Although the move appeared to affect the tech industry only marginally, it was criticized among others by the chief executives of Facebook and Google — Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai — besides many lawmakers and civil liberties activists because of possible wider fall-out.
As per reports, Google recalled scores of its immigrant staffers from foreign travels who are from countries cited by the Trump administration, amid reports of US-bound passengers being off-loaded from planes in some of the affected countries.
“We’re upset 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 US,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai, an immigrant from India himself, wrote in a “Get Back to US Now” memo to employees. “It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues… We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, at least 187 Google employees who normally live and work in the US have been affected by the ban. “Our first order of business is to help Googlers who are affected,” Pichai wrote while recalling employees who are currently abroad and might be at risk. “If you’re abroad and need help please reach out to our global security team.”
Facebook’s Zuckerberg also wrote in a post that that he’s “concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders,” while recounting that his great grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland, and his wife Priscilla’s parents were refugees from China and Vietnam.
“We wouldn’t wish this fear and uncertainty on anyone—and especially not our fellow Googlers,” he wrote. “In times of uncertainty, our values remain the best guide.” Microsoft has also warned its shareholders that curbs on immigration could have a material impact on its business.