Silicon Valleyâ€™s biggest firms strongly reacted to US President Donald Trumpâ€™s travel ban. They argue that tech world needs immigrantsâ€™ creativity and energy to stay competitive.
About 58 percent of the engineers and other high-skill employees in Silicon Valley were born outside the US. Hence it is nature that tech giants are against the travel ban. Though the tech giantsâ€™ move is likely to trigger a backlash from Trump supporters, the pushback is necessary for an industry dependent on thousands of highly skilled foreign workers.
They say that immigration and innovation go hand in hand. So, it is understandable that CEOs are speaking up. The tech industry argues that there arenâ€™t enough Americans with the specialized skills these companies need. US administration contends that companies favour immigrants because they can pay them less. Companies argue that the ban would pressure them to move some operations abroad.
Around 100 companies, including giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft, eBay, Netflix, Facebook and Twitter, back the entrepreneurial spirit of people coming from across the world to work in US. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella both came from India. Google co-founder Sergey Brin is a Russian refugee who moved to the US as a boy. The father of Appleâ€™s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, immigrated from Syria.
In response to US travel ban, Google set up a $4 million crisis fund in January to support organizations that are helping immigrants and refugees. Challenging the ban, the ride-hailing service Lyft pledged $1 million over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Some firms have adopted wait and watch policy because they feel this is a time of uncertainty. On the other hand, there are firms that are taking advantage of the climate. Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., have pledged to work with the new administration to keep spending in check, without divulging specific details. The moves have given Trump public victories even as it is unclear whether any aspect of the companiesâ€™ government contracts has changed.
Ford Motor Co. was blasted during the Trump presidential campaign over plans to build a plant in Mexico. Later, CEO Mark Fields announced the company would cancel a $1.6 billion small-car factory in Mexico and add 700 US jobs instead. The CEO has also praised Trumpâ€™s plans for a tax overhaul and said he expects a more favorable business environment under the new president.
But some firms have chosen to fight. Technology firms Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others have fiercely criticized Trumpâ€™s immigration executive order. Post travel ban, Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz announced that coffee chain would hire 10,000 refugees over five years around the world.
Trump is wading too deep into the daily business of US companies. And it makes the investors and executives to weigh their exposure to his wrath when making decisions. In just weeks as US President, Trump has sent a â€˜do what I wantâ€™ signalâ€™ to firms. This intervention is forcing CEOs and corporate boards to distort normal decision-making and conflicts with shareholder interests.
Trumpâ€™s travel ban has led to a climate of uncertainty. Canada and many other countries are ready to welcome those who want to shift their base. And it is a possibility that multinational companies may decide to move their operations abroad, which would probably have adverse effects on the US economy.