Slack and Tesla join tech firms fighting Trump's travel ban

Dozens more tech firms have lent their support to a legal challenge to President Donald Trump's controversial immigration ban, joining 96 other signatories.

In total, more than 120 companies are backing an 'amicus brief', a legal document offering official support to the State of Washington in its case against the president's 90-day travel ban affecting seven countries whose populations are mostly Muslim.

The executive order, issued by the president in late January, blocked travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, before being temporarily struck down by a federal judge. A fierce battle is now underway in attempts to determine the legitimacy of the ban.

As well as public condemnation from activists, civil rights groups and world leaders, the travel ban has also drawn sharp criticism from Silicon Valley. Virtually every major tech company has slammed the order, and the list of firms officially opposing it is now a who's-who of top tech talent.

Alongside luminaries like Google, Facebook, Citrix and Microsoft, the list is now joined by HP Inc, Adobe, Slack, Brocade and more.

In what may be a particularly embarrassing blow to the president, Elon Musk's companies, Tesla and SpaceX, are also part of the latest batch of additions. Musk sits on the president's Strategic and Policy Forum, an advisory panel that meets with Trump regularly.

Although Musk's role on the panel has drawn condemnation from some quarters, he maintains that he does not support or endorse the current administration, He also argued that it was important he advise Trump - precisely because he does not agree with him.

The brief was filed on Sunday on behalf of 96 tech signatories, saying Trump's travel ban was harmful to business. Travellers from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia were affected by the ban, but a Washington state legal challenge led to a federal judge temporarily blocking the order. An appeals court rejected a White appeal, and now a full case must be heard from the justice department as well as two states who mounted the legal challenge, Washington and Minnesota.

A decision is expected later this month, but will only determine whether the travel ban should be kept on hold or not while courts decide on its legality.

06/02/2017: 100 tech firms say Trump's travel ban is bad for business

Nearly 100 tech companies including Apple, Box, Intel and Google have signed a legal document saying their "operations are affected" by US President Donald Trump's travel ban.

The executive order imposing the 90-day ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries is already the subject of several legal challenges, including one from the state of Washington, which has called it "unlawful and unconstitutional".

A total of 97 tech firms filed an amicus brief to the US's Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the travel ban is economically harmful and that it represents a significant break with the US's previous immigration stance.

"The Order represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years," the brief, also signed by the likes of Airbnb, Microsoft and Lyft, states.

"The Order inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth as a result. The Order makes it more difficult and expensive for US companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world's best employees. It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies' ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States."

By filing the brief, the companies hope to demonstrate the travel ban will harm US businesses' operations and that it is unlawful.

Trump's executive order, issued on 27 January, banned travellers and refugees from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia. Critics claim the ban is anti-religious, something the Trump administration denies. During his campaign, Trump discussed the idea of building a database of Muslims.

Washington state's attorney general, Bob Ferguson, filed the legal challenge to Trump's travel ban that resulted in a Seattle federal judge temporarily blocking the order from being enforced nationwide last Friday.

An appeals court rejected the White House's appeal on Saturday, meaning the case must be heard in full, with both Washington and Minnesota states, as well as the justice department, being asked to give more evidence today, before an expected decision later this month. That decision only concerns whether the ban should remain on hold while courts decide on its legality.

Main image: Tony Webster

01/02/2017: Amazon offers legal backing to fight Trump travel ban

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has said he'll fight against Donald Trump's controversial immigration policies in court in letter sent to employees at the company.

Bezos explained he's supporting the Washington State attorney general, the first state official to say they will be suing Trump over his executive order.

"We reached out to congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to explore legislative options. 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," said Bezos.

On Saturday evening, Amazon issued its first letter to employees saying anyone affected by Trump's immigration policy will recieve the full support of the company. It urged those affected by the ban not to leave the country and said it would offer legal resources for those originating from the seven countries Trump has blacklisted, as well as their families.

"From the very beginning, Amazon has been committed to equal rights, tolerance and diversity and we always will be," the company said in its statement.

Bezos joins other tech leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who have both offered their support for company employees who may be affected by the policy. Travel service Expedia's boss also announced his distaste for Trump's executive order.

"The president's order represents the worst of his proclivity toward rash action versus thoughtfulness. Ours is a nation of immigrants. These are our roots, this is our soul. All erased with the stroke of a pen."

30/01/2017: Tim Cook slams Trump's immigration policies

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has hit out at US president Donald Trump's immigration policies, saying the company would not exist if it weren't for immigrants being allowed to move freely across borders.

"Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do," wrote Cook in an email to Apple staff obtained by tech website Recode. "I've heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support."

He quoted civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King in the email, saying: "We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now," which at least went some way to explain how Apple would support those who may no longer be able to re-enter the country or could be subjected to tougher reforms in the future.

He told employees Apple would support any employee who feels they are at risk and he will work closely with the company's HR, legal and security teams to give them the help they need to remain in the country.

"As I've said many times, diversity makes our team stronger," he said. "And if there's one thing I know about the people at Apple, it's the depth of our empathy and support for one another. It's as important now as it's ever been, and it will not weaken one bit. I know I can count on all of you to make sure everyone at Apple feels welcome, respected and valued."

President Trump's executive order restricts immigration from seven Muslim countries for 90 days, suspends any refugees trying to enter the country for 120 days and bars all Syrians seeking refuge indefinitely.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.