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Tech leaders condemn Trump’s immigrant ban, urge employees to stay in U.S.

Posted: 2:34 PM, Jan 28, 2017
Updated: 2017-01-28 14:34:47-05

Google is warning some employees not to travel and leaders throughout the tech world, where foreign-born entrepreneurs are central to the success of many businesses, are condemning President Trump’s ban on immigrants.

The ink was barely dry on Trump’s sweeping order Friday when people and firms started speaking out.

Google sent out a memo to its employees urging anyone with a visa or green card from one of the banned countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — to cancel any travel plans.

“Please do not travel outside of the U.S. until the ban is lifted. While the entry restriction is currently only in place for 90 days, it could be extended with little or no warning,” the memo, which was reviewed by CNN, reads.

The company also issued a statement Saturday, saying it’s “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 US.” Google also vowed to “continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.”

Immigrants and their families have a long history of starting and running American businesses. And a 2011 report from the Partnership for a New American Economy found that about 45% of high-tech companies in the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

That list includes highly influential founders from some of the banned countries: Apple founder Steve Jobs is the child of Syrian immigrants, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is the child of Iranian parents, and Oracle’s Bob Miner is also Iranian.

Omidyar spoke out Saturday and called Trump’s decision “simple bigotry.”

Others in the tech community quickly came to the defense of immigration, including leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey.

“We benefit from immigration. We benefit from diversity. We benefit from including more people because we see different perspectives,” Dorsey told CNNMoney. “And the goal of the companies we build in San Francisco, and New York, and anywhere in this country is to have global impact. And to have global impact, you really need to understand the world. And to understand the world, you need to have people from all over the world inside your company.”

Zuckerberg posted on Facebook Friday to respond. He touched on the importance of immigration in his own life’s story, citing his wife, Priscilla Chan.

“We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help,” Zuckerberg wrote. “That’s who we are. Had we turned away refugees a few decades ago, Priscilla’s family wouldn’t be here today.”

Chorus CEO and former Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo tweeted strong words for Trump on Saturday, calling him “a coward.”

Salesforce executive Vala Afshar tweeted a list of U.S. tech companies that were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants. The list includes Apple, Google and IBM.

Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham weighed in, saying “This is a good time to remember that without immigration the US will only have 5% of the top people in each field.”

Trump’s latest executive order bans about 134 million people from entering the U.S.