Imagine you are a H-1B visa holder or even a Green Card holder,. Maybe you were born in a war torn country in the Middle East in the 70s and at 2 yrs old your family fled taking you and your siblings with you arriving at the safe but unknown shores of New Zealand.
Like many immigrant families in western countries, your parents worked hard doing whatever jobs they could given their limited English skills trying to provide for you and your siblings to give you all a chance at a better life. While school life was tough because of the hard work ethic on which you were raised, you do very well and enter university and earn a Computer Science Degree.
Opportunity beckons in the US with a plethora of companies that are desperate for your skills and you manage to land a job offer with Google who look after you handsomely salary wise and set you up with the working H-1B visa. While you are in the US, you meet someone, fall in love and get engaged. However late one night you get the call everyone fears. Your mother has taken seriously ill back in New Zealand and may not have much time left.
You of course rush back to her side, with the full support of your manager and Google to take the time that you need. Suddenly while by her hospital bedside, in maybe her last days on the planet you get the email that you need to return to the US immediately. Not because of any work project or because your time off period has expired, but because Google is fearful that because of the new Presidential executive orders on Immigration you may be either barred from getting on a plane back to US or blocked at the border.
This seems strange in your mind as you are legal immigrant to the US and you are also a long time New Zealand citizen so why would there be any risk to you. Suddenly you realize b/c of the country of your birth, a country you have been unable to visit and thus don’t even remember let alone been in for over 30 years is putting you at risk.
Now you have a dying mother next to you, a fiancee back at home in California who also loves you and the general idea that whichever decision you make you may be stuck with for a while forsaking the other. You either may not see your fiancee and friends in the US again for who knows how long or you may be in the US but not be able to see your family. This is not to mention the situation with your mother.
This story is a hypothetical situation but as Bloomberg and others have reported today and from an internal Google memo, that they have ordered visa holder employee who are born in certain countries back to US before any potential 90 day or other moratorium on entry supposedly occurs.
There are already Green Card and H-1B visa holders who have been stopped from getting on planes or potentially worse right at the border after the afternoon directive from the Department of Homeland Security started to take effect.
Google are also concerned about Green Card holders who work for them who also happen to be originally born in those 7 countries identified; Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.
Finally other tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook are also starting to tentatively speak out in the last 24 hours against the Trump Administration’s crazy US Immigration orders.
It is really time for all tech leads including 5 of the top 7 most valuable companies in the world; Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook need to use their significant power, money and platform to speak out. These companies have been built of various generations of immigrants with Google’s CEO and Microsoft’s CEO both Indian and both Alphabet/Google and Facebook having immigrant co-founders.
This isn’t just about economics anymore for these organizations, it is now basic human dignity and for the fact you never want anyone to be in the position to have to choose between either seeing a loved one or never returning home.