CEOs speak out about Trump’s travel ban

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz speaks Dec. 7 during the Starbucks 2016 Investor Day meeting in New York.
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz speaks Dec. 7 during the Starbucks 2016 Investor Day meeting in New York.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

A number of company chief executives, ranging from Starbucks Corp.’s Howard Schultz to Google’s Sundar Pichai, have spoken out about or taken action after President Trump’s temporary travel ban on refugees.

Trump signed a controversial executive order Friday that blocks all refugee entry for 120 days, with an indefinite block on Syrian refugee entry. Entry to the U.S. by people with passports from Libya, Sudan, Syria, Somali, Iran, Iraq and Yemen is also suspended for 90 days. Late Sunday afternoon, the ban was modified to exclude green card holders.

Several of the companies said some of their employees would be affected by the ban.


Here is what CEOs have said about the order.


Muhtar Kent, chief executive of the beverage giant, condemned the ban in a statement Monday and pledged support to any affected employees.

“We do not support this travel ban or any policy that is contrary to our core values and beliefs,” he said. “As a U.S. company that has operations in more than 200 countries and territories, we respect people from all backgrounds and greatly value the diversity of our global system’s more than 700,000 associates.”


Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, warned in a Facebook post that these actions could “make America less safe” through “hatred and loss of allies.”

“Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world and are so un-American it pains us all,” he wrote.


The online shopping marketplace’s chief executive, Chad Dickerson, tweeted his opposition to the travel ban Saturday.

American Airlines

In a letter to employees Monday, American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker said the order places “difficult operating conditions” on some employees.

“Reservations agents and airport teams have witnessed turmoil in our airports that shows how divisive this order can be,” he wrote. “However, it is the current law of the U.S., and so long as that is the case, we must comply. We are doing everything we can to care for any affected customers and team members and treat them with the utmost respect.”


Howard Schultz, the Seattle coffee company’s chief executive, said in a statement Sunday that Starbucks is developing plans to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.

“We will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support,” he wrote.


Logan Green, chief executive of the San Francisco ride-hailing firm, announced Sunday that Lyft would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years. The ACLU filed suit Saturday against the executive order on behalf of two Iraqis, and a federal judge in New York halted deportations for those who had already arrived at U.S. airports.


Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was perhaps the first tech executive to speak out against Trump’s travel ban. In a memo to employees Friday night, Pichai said more than 100 company staff members were affected by the order, according to Bloomberg News.

“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Pichai wrote, according to Bloomberg. “We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”

On Monday, Google said it had created a fund that could raise up to $4 million to support the ACLU and three other immigrant rights organizations.


Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Chief Executive Mark Fields also slammed Trump’s travel ban in a message to employees Monday. The automaker said it was currently not aware of any employees directly affected by the order.

“Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world,” the executives wrote in the memo. “That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.”


Short-term home rental website Airbnb said Saturday that it would offer free housing to refugees and others who have been affected by the travel ban.


Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla Motors Inc. and SpaceX, had initially faced criticism from supporters for backing secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, who was CEO of Exxon Mobil, and joining Trump’s advisory panel on business issues. On Sunday, he asked Twitter followers for “specific amendments” to Trump’s executive order. Musk said he would “seek advisory council consensus” and present those thoughts to Trump. Over the weekend, Musk spoke out against the executive order.


In a Facebook note Friday, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said he was “concerned” about the impact of recent executive orders signed by Trump.

His note dipped into his and his wife’s personal histories — Zuckerberg said his great-grandparents came from Germany, Austria and Poland, while wife Priscilla Chan’s parents were refugees from China and Vietnam.

“We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat,” he wrote. “We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That’s who we are.”


As a protest against the order by taxi drivers at New York’s Kennedy International Airport wrapped up Saturday evening, Uber advertised on Twitter that it would turn off surge pricing for airport trips. Even though Chief Executive Travis Kalanick had criticized the order earlier that day, the company faced immediate backlash, spawning the #deleteuber hashtag.

Kalanick said Sunday that the ride-hailing company would compensate drivers who were unable to work because of the ban. Like Musk, Kalanick is a member of Trump’s business advisory panel and said he would use his position “to stand up for what’s right.”

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein spoke out against the order in a voicemail to employees Sunday night.

“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” he said.

Amazon Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos took a stand on Trump’s order in an email to employees Monday afternoon.

In the email, Bezos said the company’s public policy team in Washington, D.C., has reached out to “senior administration officials to make our opposition clear.” He said Amazon has also reached out to congressional representatives to “explore legislative options.”

“This executive order is one we do not support,” Bezos wrote. “Our legal team has prepared a declaration of support for the Washington state attorney general who will be filing suit against the order. We are working other legal options as well.”



Jan. 31, 2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from CEOs from Coca-Cola, Netflix, American Airlines and Etsy.

Jan. 30, 4 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.

This article was originally published on Jan. 30 at 1:40 p.m.