Tech giants unite against Trump’s immigration ban

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6 February 2017 | 0

Google, Facebook, Intel, Netflix, Microsoft, Apple and Twitter are among a large group of companies that have filed a brief in opposition to an immigration order by US President Donald Trump, citing the benefits to industry from liberal immigration rules and the disruption to business as a result of the regulation.

A total of 97 companies from the technology and other sectors asked permission late Sunday from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to file an amici curiae, also known as a friends-of-the-court brief, in favour of maintaining a restraining order from a lower court on Trump’s decision that restricts the entry of certain classes of visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Immigrants are among our leading entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, and philanthropists,” according to the filing, which stated that in the past the US has maintained its commitment to welcoming immigrants, while also protecting the country through increased background checks and other controls on people seeking to enter the country.

The executive order signed by Trump on 27 January suspended for 90 days entry into the US of immigrants and non-immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, leading to a storm of criticism, including from the tech industry. Tech companies see the restrictions as the first in a number of curbs planned by the Trump administration on the entry to the US of skilled workers the industry relies on, including probably a tighter H-1B visa programme.

Trump’s executive order was challenged by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who asked the US District Court for the Western District of Washington to invalidate parts of the executive order for a number of reasons, including that it discriminates in the issuance of immigrant visas on the basis of race, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.

District Court Senior Judge James L. Robart granted a temporary restraining order on the travel restrictions last Friday, which the federal government asked the appeals court to stay through an emergency motion.

Trump’s executive order “hinders the ability of American companies to attract great talent; increases costs imposed on business; makes it more difficult for American firms to compete in the international market- place; and gives global enterprises a new, significant incentive to build operations – and hire new employees – outside the United States,” according to the filing by the tech industry on Sunday.

The tech companies said they were also concerned that the executive order had said that the number of countries covered could be extended under certain conditions, generating considerable uncertainty for companies and their employees.

Amazon.com and Expedia had earlier filed declarations in the District Court, claiming that the recent immigration order is disrupting their business and affecting employees.

The appeals court has refused the government an immediate stay and instead asked the Washington state government to file its opposition brief Sunday to be followed by the federal government’s response by 3:00pm PST today.

IDG News Service

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