Silicon Valley companies are stepping up their opposition to Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration amid an intensifying legal battle over the policy, with a joint legal filing attacking the US president’s position.
Airbnb, Uber, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft are among the technology companies that submitted an amicus brief — a legal document filed by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject — to the ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday night. Other signatories include Box, Dropbox, eBay, GoPro, Lyft, Spotify, Yelp and Levi Strauss.
The brief urges the US to make a “fundamental commitment” to welcoming immigrants, while recommending that increased background checks can adequately protect the country.
“Immigrants make many of the nation’s greatest discoveries and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies,” the brief said.
“The [executive] order represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the US for more than 50 years — and the order inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation and growth as a result.
“The order makes it more difficult and expensive for US companies to recruit, hire and retain some of the world’s best employees. It disrupts business operations, and it threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business and investment to the US.”
Amazon was not part of the amicus brief, because it made its own filing as a witness in the Washington state attorney general’s original lawsuit, a spokesperson said.
With growing pressure from both employees and customers, tech executives have been among the most prominent corporate opponents to Mr Trump’s ban on travel to the US by all refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim nations. Thousands of Google employees staged a walkout against the order last Monday as the internet company pledged to match up to $2m in staff donations to support refugees.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has said it was “not a policy we support”, noting that the iPhone maker “would not exist without immigration”; its co-founder Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant.
Last week, Microsoft asked the White House to set up an exemption programme for US visa holders affected by the order. “The suspension of admission creates a significant burden on US companies contrary to the country’s national and economic interests,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal officer.
Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber, stepped down from Mr Trump’s business advisory council on Thursday after a weeklong backlash against the ride-hailing service saw thousands of customers delete its app. Mr Kalanick said his participation was “not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda”.
Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief, who remains on the president’s advisory council, spent Sunday morning defending his position on Twitter. “Activists should be pushing for more moderates to advise president, not fewer. How could having only extremists advise him possibly be good?” Mr Musk wrote.
The tech industry’s latest step in opposition to the Trump administration came after a weekend of legal manoeuvring and growing rhetoric, as the row over immigration even extended to the Super Bowl.
Early on Sunday, a federal appeals court rejected Mr Trump’s request to reinstate his travel ban after a lower court had halted the order. Mr Trump railed against the ruling from his Twitter account, saying that “many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country”. Some expect the dispute to reach the supreme court.
Airbnb aired an advertisement during Sunday’s game that promoted acceptance and diversity. “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong,” read Airbnb’s ad, accompanied by the hashtag “#weaccept”.