Starbucks Vows to Hire 10,000 Refugees in Response to Trump's Ban

Starbucks joined the U.S. high-tech community in taking a stand against President Trump's executive actions on immigration and refugees, while most corporate bosses remain silent.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz responds to Donald Trump's executive order on refugees and immigration.
REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger, AP /Richard, Bloomberg

Starbucks Corp Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said on Sunday that the company planned to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in 75 countries, two days after U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order banning refugees from certain countries.

Trump on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

The order sparked widespread international criticism, outrage from civil rights activists and legal challenges.

However, most U.S. corporate bosses have stayed silent on President Donald Trump's immigration curbs, underscoring the sensitivities around opposing policies that could provoke a backlash from the White House. 

Starbucks in a letter from Schultz, the Jewish-American billionaire who is set to resign from the coffee chain in April 2017, told employees it would do everything possible to support affected workers. 

The hiring efforts announced on Sunday would start in the United States by initially focusing on individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where the military has asked for such support, Schultz said.

The leaders of Apple Inc, Google and Facebook Inc lead the corportate effort in opposing Trump on Saturday by emailing their staffs to denounce Trump's executive order.

The U.S. technology industry is a major employer of foreign workers and was the one industry to loudly denounce Trump with some leaders calling it immoral and un-American.

Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings called it "a sad week" and added: "It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity."

Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a letter to employees saying Trump's order was "not a policy we support" and promised to help affected employees.

"We have reached out to the White House to explain the negative effect on our coworkers and our company," Cook added.

Elon Musk, the South African-born founder of Tesla and SpaceX who met recently with Trump, said on Twitter: "The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country's challenges."

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said: "Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right and we must stand with those who are affected."

Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Twitter/Reuters

Airbnb will provide free housing to anyone not allowed into the United States, Chesky said.

Aaron Levie, the outspoken founder and CEO of online storage company Box Inc, said: "The executive order on immigration is immoral and antithetical to our values."

Stranded

Friday's order could be a major headache for tech companies, potentially leaving employees stranded overseas and unable to return to the United States.

Alphabet Inc's Google urgently called back employees from overseas and told ones who might be affected by the ban not to leave the United States.

CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to staff that more than 100 Google employees were affected by the order, according to a Google executive.

One Google employee of Iranian nationality with legal U.S. residency made it back to the United States just hours before the order took effect, the executive said.

"We're concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.," Google said in a statement.

Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a company-wide email posted on LinkedIn that 76 company employees were citizens of the seven countries in question and held U.S. work visas, and thus were directly affected by the order.

He said the company had not determined how many people with green cards, or permanent residence status, might be affected.

"As a company, Microsoft believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system," Smith said in the post. "We believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings."

Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick, who has faced criticism from some employees for participating in Trump's business advisory council, said in a statement that the company would compensate drivers from the seven countries who might not be able to return to the United States for three months or more. He said the company knew of about a dozen affected employees.

"This ban will impact many innocent people - an issue that I will raise this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump's first business advisory group meeting," Kalanick said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday that was "concerned" about the order and voiced support for immigrants.