Microsoft's CEO, Senior Tech Execs React to Trump Travel Ban

CEO Satya Nadella and company President Brad Smith take a stand on Donald Trump's executive barring entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days.

Federal Immigration Ban 2

The IT industry is responding to an executive order signed on Jan. 27 by U.S. President Donald Trump, which sparked protests at airports, a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and intervention from a federal court judge over the weekend.

The controversial measure bars citizens of seven countries with Muslim-majority populations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—from entering the U.S. for 90 days. It also calls for a 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admission program and indefinite ban on refugees from Syria, among other restrictions.

In a Jan. 28 post on LinkedIn Pulse (now a Microsoft-owned property), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commented on his company's stance on Trump's executive order.

"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," he wrote. "We will continue to advocate on this important topic."

The statement follows a memo sent by Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and top lawyer, that same day. According to Smith, the company identified 76 employees affected by the travel ban and is working on providing them assistance.

Smith added that the company believes in an immigration system that is both "strong and balanced" in his email. "We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion. And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings," he continued.

Nadella and Smith aren't the only influential technology executives weighing on in the issue. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the executive order "is not a policy we support" in an Jan. 28 email to employees.

"In my conversations with officials here in Washington this week, I've made it clear that Apple believes deeply in the importance of immigration—both to our company and to our nation's future," began the internal memo. "Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do."

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, expressed concern "about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump," in a post to the social network.

"We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here. I hope we find the courage and compassion to bring people together and make this world a better place for everyone," wrote Zuckerberg.

Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO, of open-source heavyweight Red Hat, said Sunday that his organization is monitoring the executive order and how it is being implemented.

"From what we see so far, we are concerned that the changes are inconsistent with Red Hat's values, including diversity," Whitehurst wrote on his company's blog. "Red Hat is strong because of the thousands of diverse voices that comprise our company. Our continued work to advance the technology industry depends greatly on our ability to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...