WASHINGTON: Nearly 100 US tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Intel, eBay, Uber and Twitter, have filed a joint legal brief arguing against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, saying it ”inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth.”
Two former Secretaries of State, John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, have also backed the challenge saying Trump’s order undermines national security and will endanger US troops in the field, even as the matter is headed to the U.S Supreme Court.
The amicus curiae (literally, friend of the court) brief that allows someone who is not party to the case to pitch in with arguments was filed after a federal judge in Seattle temporarily suspended Trump’s order pending a wider legal review. The ruling has opened the door for refugees and visa holders from seven red-flagged Muslim-majority countries to re-enter the U.S again, amid outrage from President Trump who on Sunday said the judge had put the country in peril and suggested he and the court system should be held responsible ”if something happens.”
”The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!” Trump tweeted on Sunday, after mocking what he termed as a ”ridiculous” ruling of the ”so-called” judge. ”Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” he added.
But the best of American businesses stood up for immigrants, who many believe are the eventual targets of the travel restrictions that has begun with the ban on nationals of the seven Muslim-majority countries. There have been sporadic reports of immigrants, including Indians, being targeted by hate groups who believe the Trump election is a mandate to roll back immigration and what they see as the ”browning of America.”
That fringe view, prevalent mostly in Middle America, is being vigorously contested by US businesses, mostly based on the East Coast and West Coast that have thrived on immigration. Some of the concern also goes back to widely cited remarks by Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon during his days as a radio host that there are far too many Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley and a country is more than its economy.
In their brief, US tech companies argued that ”Immigrants make many of the nation’s greatest discoveries, and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies,” while maintaining that the tremendous impact of immigrants on America — and on American business — is not happenstance. ”People who choose to leave everything that is familiar and journey to an unknown land to make a new life necessarily are endowed with drive, creativity, determination – and just plain guts,” they said, adding that ”The energy they bring to America, is a key reason why the American economy has been the greatest engine of prosperity and innovation in history.”
The brief also recognized the importance of security saying 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 brief was filed late on Sunday with the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco and is expected to come up for hearing on Monday evening. Legal experts see the matter landing very quickly in the US Supreme Court which is currently tied at 4-4 between liberal and conservative justices with a Trump nominated conservative judge yet to be confirmed by the Senate where Democrats have pledged to oppose him.
A tie in the Supreme Court will leave the decisions of the lower courts intact.
The signatories to the brief include non-tech companies such as jeans legend Levi Strauss &co and yogurt-maker Chobani, besides familiar new-age Silicon Valley names such as AirBnB, PayPal, LinkedIn etc.
Some of the companies have been rattled by pressure from users who are typically better-educated and higher-earning than Trump constituents.