Updated: March 1, 2021
Many Americans, including big American tech companies such Amazon, Apple And Google, are silent since President Donald Trump expanded his 2017 travel ban to include six new countries, four of them African nations, including Nigeria, the world’s most populous black country.
As noted by BuzzFeed, “In January 2017, when the Trump administration first unveiled a travel ban targeting seven majority Muslim countries, the tech industry took up arms. CEOs wrote impassioned letters, a billionaire founder showed up to an airport protest, and multiple companies lent their voices to lawsuits challenging the policy.
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“Last week, however, following the announcement of immigration restrictions on six additional countries, the reaction could not have been more different. Silicon Valley largely fell silent”.
President Donald Trump signed the expanded travel ban on Friday. Under the new ban, citizens from Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Eritrea are barred from applying for immigrant visas while those from Sudan and Tanzania cannot apply for diversity visas, which grant green cards.
The new changes will go into effect on February 22, 2020 and are said to affect as many as 12,400 visa applicants.
The Trump administration said the changes were necessary because the countries singled out failed to meet minimal security and information-sharing standards, according to officials.
Buzzfeed noted that “as the tech industry has warmed to the Trump administration — with CEOs hosting photo ops with the president or attending secret dinners at the White House — its leaders’ responses to the ban extension have varied dramatically from 2017. There were no tweets. No all-hands memos or meetings. No forceful statements on Facebook. No threats of legal action“.
BuzzFeed added: “Historically, the tech industry has made immigration one of its leading political causes. Companies including Apple, Amazon, and Google were cofounded by immigrants or the children of immigrants, while startups to trillion-dollar goliaths rely on worker visas to stock their ranks. In January 2017, when asked why he was attending a protest of President Trump’s policy at the San Francisco International Airport, Google cofounder Sergey Brin gave a simple response: “I’m here because I’m a refugee.”One company said there was no need to issue a statement because the ban was “more limited in scope” and had not impacted its employees.
“This time around, Google, whose CEO, Sundar Pichai, hails from India, did not respond to a request for comment. Late last year, BuzzFeed News reported that the company hired a former Department of Homeland Security official who had publicly defended a version of the travel ban for the administration and later worked on the policy of family separation at the southern border.
“Amazon, whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, was raised by a Cuban immigrant, declined to comment. Apple did not respond to a request for comment. One company said there was no need to issue a statement because the ban was “more limited in scope” and had not impacted its employees.
“As we have said regarding earlier efforts to limit immigration on a country-specific basis, we believe that as a nation of immigrants we all benefit from welcoming people from around the world to live here, work here, and contribute to our society,” a Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Monday. They also pointed to a 2017 post by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in which he noted his concern with “the recent executive orders signed by President Trump.” The issue of immigration was “personal for me,” Zuckerberg said then, because of his Polish, Austrian, and German heritage.
“While Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has not tweeted in opposition to the new policy, as he did in 2017, a company spokesperson noted that the company depended on “an international, vibrant workforce.” Late last year, Dorsey visited Nigeria and said that he wanted to live in Africa in the future.
“We believe decisions such as this have the potential to harm US competitiveness and credibility on the global stage,” the Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Monday.