The amicus brief outlines why the travel ban will be bad for business, but also America`s social fabric
Ninety-seven tech giants have filed a joint legal brief in protest of president Donald Trump’s travel ban from seven predominately Muslim countries in the Middle East.
Although Judge James Robart of the Federal District Court in Seattle made headlines and history last week when he blocked Trump’s temporary immigration ban on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, along with refugees, the residing administration has promised to fight the block and push Trump`s executive order through. In light of this, the US tech industry – including Google, Facebook, Airbnb and Netflix – has taken a stand and filed an amicus brief, a legal document that can be filed by anyone not involved in a case but with a strong interest.
The brief - first identified by Bloomberg - outlines how immigrants form the very basis of the “American Dream”, with the ban undermining their efforts to contribute to US society.
It reads: "Immigrants make many of the Nation’s greatest discoveries, and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies. America has long recognised the importance of protecting ourselves against those who would do us harm. But it has done so while maintaining our fundamental commitment to welcoming immigrants – through increased background checks and other controls on people seeking to enter our country."
The brief, an addition to the original case against the government brought by Minnesota and Washington state, is designed to provide further arguments for the courts to consider and has been signed by an extraordinary number of the biggest tech companies in the world. While Google, Facebook and others have already vocalised their concerns, pointing out that a large number of their own workforce were directly impacted by the travel ban, they are now joined by Airbnb, Apple, Autodesk, eBay, Etsy, General Assembly, GitHub, GoPro, Intel, Indiegogo, Kickstarter, LinkedIn, Lyft, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit, Snap, Spotify, Taskrabbit Twitter, Uber, Y Combinator, Zynga and many, many more. They are united in their belief that the ban will be bad for business, but also bad for society.
Although Paypal is also on the list, original cofounder Elon Musk’s companies are noticeably absent – the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has been insistent that the private sector should work with Trump and that "simply attacking him will achieve nothing". “I`m just trying to make a positive contribution & hope good comes of it,” he tweeted, after featuring on Trump’s strategic and policy forum and manufacturing council in an advisory capacity.
Amazon and Oracle are also not on the list, with the latter’s CEO Safra Catz advising Trump as part of his transition team (a move that led one senior executive, George Polisner, to very publicly resign). Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick announced he would remove himself from Trump’s advisory council after a backlash of criticism, and at the weekend Airbnb made its feelings clear about the travel ban with its #weaccept Super Bowl advert that states “we all belong”.
The brief was filed on Sunday, February 5 at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – which had already upheld Judge Robart’s ruling – one day ahead of a deadline for any oppositions against the ruling to be filed. The government is expected to put those challenges to the appeals court today, with a response expected by 6PM Eastern time. Along with the 97 tech companies, former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeline Albright added their voices to the opposition.
Meanwhile, Trump has been contributing to his government’s appeal in typical fashion – tweeting increasingly antagonistic attacks on Judge Robart, including calls to “blame him” if “something happens” as a result of people with “bad intentions” being let into the country. Critics of the Judge Robart`s ruling have argued that president Obama implemented similar measures when he blocked Iraqi refugees from entering the country for a period of six months. However, this was as a direct result of an investigation that revealed Iraqi nationals living in the US were supplying al-Qaeda with money and weapons. Not, as Kellyanne Conway stated in an interview with MSNBC, as a result of the “Bowling Green massacre” "nobody wrote about (the Trump advisor has since retracted her “alternative facts” and claims she meant to say "Bowling Green terrorists").