Image: Wikimedia Image: Wikimedia

Businesses large and small have come out in fierce support of migrant workers after President Trump issued an executive order banning migrants and refugees from seven countries.

The order brought a halt to the US refugee programme, banning Syrian refugees and all nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - all Muslim-majority countries. It sparked protests across the US over the weekend, with JFK airport in New York the focal point as passengers from these nations were detained.

In addition to widespread backlash from the public in the US, and criticism of Theresa May's initial refusal to condemn Trump's move, businesses are making the case for immigration. Some of the world's biggest and most influential business leaders issued statements on the immigration ban over the weekend.

Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, said on Facebook: "Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all."

In a memo to staff, Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, said: "We’re 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. We'll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere."

Twitter founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, tweeted: "The Executive Order's humanitarian and economic impact is real and upsetting. We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the US"

Also taking to Twitter, Tesla boss Elon Musk said: "The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges"

Microsoft has said it will provide legal advice and assistance to staff members affected by the ban. CEO Satya Nadella said on LinkedIn: "As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world."

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a memo to employees: "Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do."

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg was among the first to comment on the ban. He said: "My great grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland. Priscilla's parents were refugees from China and Vietnam. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that.Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump."

Taking action

Some companies are doing more than taking to social media to criticise Trump's decision. Airbnb said it will provide free housing to any refugees refused access to the US.

Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said the company will hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years, prioritising people who had served or assisted the US military. He said the company would "neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration's actions grows with each passing day".

UK protests

Over 20 protests are due to take place in cities across the UK today (Monday) against Theresa May's lack of condemnation of the ban. Trump issued the executive order just hours after the Prime Minister left Washington on Friday, but Mrs May initially dodged questions about the ban during press conferences on a state visit to Turkey.

While the protests are about so much more than business, businesses owners and entrepreneurs are joining protests across the country and are defiant about what migrants and refugees offer to the UK economy.

Michael O'Toole, managing director of IT solutions company, MJCO, said: "Businesses should be looking to find the very best people they can - this is severely hampered by limiting your options to "native born" populations alone.

"Immigration allows access to a wider range of educational backgrounds, more viewpoints and access to knowledge and process methods from around the globe. Integrating the best of this into any business can only make it stronger and more resilient. I'd event venture as far as to say that immigration is essential for strong, diverse and successful businesses. To borrow Justin Trudeau's motto 'Diversity is our strength'."

Stuart Herbert, founder and chief software archaeologist at Ganbaro Digital, said: "As an Englishman living in Wales, I consider myself a migrant. As an amateur local historian, I know that most of South Wales is populated by the descendants of migrants, who came here during the Industrial Revolution.

"I've worked in diverse teams for most of my career (over 20 years now). I've seen nothing to support any notion that any one country, race or gender has any monopoly on competence or ability. Quite the opposite."