Immigration has been a driving force behind many of the leading technology companies in the United States.
Some, including Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), are led by CEOs who were not born in this country while over 200 companies on the Fortune 500 were started by immigrants or their children. In addition most top tech brands are global, with offices all over the world, and talent working domestically that was not born in the U.S.
At least partly because of that nearly 100 technology companies including Microsoft, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL), Facebook, Twitter, and many others have filed a legal brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit opposing President Donald Trump's temporary immigration ban keeping people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. In the brief the companies argue that the ban "inflicts significant harm on American business."
See how business leaders reacted to the executive order:
Business leaders react to Trump administration's travel ban
Business leaders react to Trump administration's travel ban
Bill Ford and Mark Fields, executive chairman and CEO of Ford
"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." - Memo to employees
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO
"Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump ...
"These issues are personal for me even beyond my family. A few years ago, I taught a class at a local middle school where some of my best students were undocumented. They are our future too. 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."
"The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges.
"Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They've done right,not wrong & don't deserve to be rejected." - Twitter
REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo
Tim Cook, Apple CEO
"Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do." - Memo to employees
(Photo credit JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
"This executive order is one we do not support.
"We're a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years.... It's a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken." - Memo to employees
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO
"Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity." - Facebook
Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO
"There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. "
"Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right and we must stand with those who are affected.
"Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing." - Twitter
Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola CEO
"Coca-Cola Co. is resolute in its commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion, and we do not support this travel ban or any policy that is contrary to our core values and beliefs." -e-mailed statement
Brian Moynihan, Bank of America CEO
"As a global company, we depend upon the diverse sources of talent that our teammates represent.
"In view of this, we are closely monitoring the recent refugee- and immigration-related executive order in the United States, and subsequent developments." - Memo to employees
REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS HEADSHOT)
Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO
"Drivers who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen and live in the U.S. but have left the country, will not be able to return for 90 days. This means they won't be able to earn money and support their families during this period." - Facebook
Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia CEO
"I believe that with this Executive Order, our President has reverted to the short game. The U.S. may be ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary." - Memo to employees
2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS TRAVEL)
Jeff Immelt, General Electric CEO
"These employees and customers are critical to our success and they are our friends and partners." - Memo to employees
Trip Advisor CEO Stephen Kaufer
"We need to do more, not less, to help refugees. Trumps action was wrong on humanitarian grounds, legal grounds, and won't make us 'safer.' " - Twitter
(Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)
Salesforce CEO Vala Afshar
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO
"40% of Fortune 500 founded by immigrants or their children. All ethnicities should have access to opportunity -- founding principle of U.S." - Twitter
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff
"When we close our hearts & stop loving other people as ourselves (MK 12:31) we forget who we truly are---a light unto the nations. #noban" - Twitter
(Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
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What are they opposing?
In one of his first acts as president, Trump signed an executive order banning refugees and visa-holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. That order has been stayed by a U.S. District judge and an appeals court declined to immediately reinstate the presidential order. The technology companies, many of which operate and employ workers in and from the impacted countries filed their brief to show their opposition to the president's actions.
"Immigrants make many of the Nation's greatest discoveries, and create some of the country's most innovative and iconic companies," the brief states. "America has long recognized 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 companies that signed the brief acknowledged what Trump was, at least on the surface, trying to accomplish with the executive order.
"We share your goal of ensuring that our immigration system meets today's security needs and keeps our country safe," said a draft of that letter obtained by Bloomberg News. "We are concerned, however, that your recent Executive Order will affect many visa holders who work hard here in the United States and contribute to our country's success."
Tech requires global talent
Putting aside any political questions, the tech industry opposes Trump's immigration ban in part because it takes global talent to compete. The U.S. simply does not produce enough workers -- specifically coders who write the software that powers the products made by these companies -- to meet demand.
To fill those needs companies across the U.S. use H1B visas to receive special dispensation to hire workers who otherwise would not be able to legally work in the country. A H1B visa, according to MyVisaJobs.com, allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations for three years, extendable to six years. "To qualify for H1B Visa, the foreign professional must hold a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited college or university in the specialty occupation," according to the site. In some cases specialized training can be substituted for a degree.
Technology companies dominate the list of employers using workers on H1B visas. Data compiled by MyVisaJobs.com shows that in 2016 Infosys held the top spot, having sponsored 25,405 visas. while Microsoft, Apple, and Alphabet were all in the top 25.
It's about more than self interest
It's easy to see the business reasons behind why these technology companies oppose Trump's immigration restrictions. Most, if not all of the companies that filed the brief would be impacted by having employees unable to travel and in some cases the executive order would impact hiring.
For at least some of these companies, however, the opposition goes beyond pure business logic. Many of these brands were either founded by immigrants or by the children of immigrants and immediate business concerns aside, they simply want a world where new immigrants to the U.S. can be free to move here and found the next Microsoft, Apple, or Alphabet.
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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's Board of Directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Daniel Kline owns shares of Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.