New York Times
By Patricia Cohen
January 29, 2017
After the initial shock of President Trump’s order on Friday restricting entry to the United States by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations and all refugees, businesses and trade organizations began to respond over the weekend, some with outrage, some with caution.
The ride-hailing service Lyft promised to donate $1 million over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union “to defend our Constitution.” Brian Chesky, a founder of Airbnb, wrote on Twitter that his company, a short-term home rental service, would provide “free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the U.S.” In a message to his employees on Sunday, Howard Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, said the company planned to hire 10,000 refugees in the 75 countries where it operates.
Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, told his staff in an internal blog post that “I share your concern,” adding, “There would be no G.E. without people of all religions, nationalities, gender, sexual orientation and race.”
Many airlines, caught off-guard by the sudden policy change, scrambled to follow the new directive while attending to their rattled and distressed customers. United Airlines, for instance, posted a statement on its website saying that travelers affected by the order “will not be able to board” flights to the United States. Other domestic and foreign airlines issued statements that they were trying to identify affected passengers and help them with rebooking or obtaining refunds.
Whatever their personal views on Mr. Trump’s order, employers and executives had to do a quick risk analysis of how their reaction might affect their staff, customers and sales. Concerns include not just potentially unfavorable future changes to federal policies and regulations affecting their companies but also a president who has a penchant for denouncing critics and firms that cross him.
For some, the ban was seen as a direct attack on workers and their families. The New York taxi drivers’ union, whose membership of 19,000 is largely Muslim, joined a protest at Kennedy International Airport on Friday night. Drivers temporarily halted pickups at the airport, and the union issued a statement saying government programs that “sanction outright Islamophobia” cause hate crimes and violence against drivers to increase.
On social media, some called for a boycott of the ride-hailing service Uber for continuing to operate during the protests at J.F.K. Uber later said it would create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration problems.
Outside major urban centers, the meat-processing industry expressed support for newly arrived refugees and other migrants, who frequently fill tough jobs in their plants, but avoided harsh denunciations of the president or his policies.
“Historically, our industry has been an excellent starting point for new Americans,” Barry Carpenter, the chief executive of the North American Meat Institute, an industry lobby group, said in a statement. “Immigrants and refugees can be an important component of some companies’ labor forces, especially in rural areas where low unemployment creates a tight labor supply.” He called refugees “valued members” of the industry’s 500,000-person work force.
At multinational General Electric, Mr. Immelt stepped carefully, saying that the situation “is very fluid and would evolve quickly in the coming days.” He said, “Our priority at G.E. is our people and our customers,” and noted that the company had both in the seven affected countries.
“We stand with them and will work with the U.S. administration,” Mr. Immelt added, “to strive to find the balance between the need for security and the movement of law-abiding people.”
Executives at the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company fielded phone calls from anxious colleagues wondering if they should travel to the United States for assignments. About 80 of the firm’s 23,000 employees were potentially affected, McKinsey said.
For the time being, the firm told employees who could be barred entry to the United States to stay put and advised those already in the country not to travel outside for now. In a memo to employees on Sunday evening, Dominic Barton, McKinsey’s global managing director, said, “I want to say upfront that I am very disappointed and concerned by this turn of events.”
In California, officials with the political network overseen by the billionaire conservative activists David H. and Charles G. Koch released a statement on Sunday criticizing Mr. Trump’s handling of the issue.
“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,” Brian Hooks, co-chairman of the Kochs’ donor network, said during the consortium’s annual winter meeting.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com