‘America first’ divides Trump, Silicon Valley

Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg and his Google counterpart, Sundar Pichai, have slammed US President Donald Trump over his executive order to ban refugees and immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries.

“Like many of you, I’m concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat… We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help.”

In a note to employees on Friday, Pichai said more than 100 Google staff were affected by the order. “It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” he wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. “We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”

Alphabet Inc’s Google delivered a sharp message to staff travelling overseas who may be impacted by a new executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump: Get back to the US now.

The comments underscore a growing rift between the Trump administration and several large US technology companies, which include many immigrants in their ranks and have lobbied for fewer immigration restrictions. Trump signed an executive order Friday prohibiting entry by people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya the period, while the government determines what information it needs to safely admit visitors.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive on Friday afternoon ordering the Customs and Border Control agency to enforce the order, the New York Daily News reported. Late Friday, some green card and visa holders were already being blocked from boarding flights to the US, the newspaper said.

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


“These issues are personal for me even beyond my family. A few years ago, I taught a class at a local middle school where some of my best students were undocumented. They are our future too. We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live Mark Zukerberg, work and contribute here. I hope we find the courage and compassion to bring people together and make this world a better place for everyone,” he said.

Zuckerberg, who has long championed immigration, wrote that his great grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland.

Some Google employees were travelling abroad and were trying to get back to the US before the order took effect. The company asked them to reach out to Google’s security, travel, and immigration teams for assistance, according to one of the people familiar with the situation.

The people asked not to be identified talking about internal company communications.

The employees in question normally work in the US but just happened to be abroad either on work assignments or vacations. The concern is that even if Google staff have valid visas, they may still be at risk if they’re from one of the seven countries and they’re outside the US when the order kicks in, the person also said.

“We are advising our clients from those seven countries who have green cards or any type of H-1B visa not to travel outside the US,” said Ava Benach, a partner at immigration law firm Benach Collopy LLP, while noting that the order takes effect immediately.

“No one is really sure whether a green card holder from these seven countries can return to the US now. It’s fairly clear that an H-1B visa holder can’t,” Benach said.

The H-1B lets US companies employ graduate-level workers from other countries in technical occupations such as technology, engineering and science source Press trust of india.


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