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Starbucks Is Hiring 10,000 Refugees, Lyft Is Giving $1 Million To The ACLU

How CEOs are joining the Trump resistance.

Starbucks Is Hiring 10,000 Refugees, Lyft Is Giving $1 Million To The ACLU
[Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

On Saturday, a day after Trump issued an executive order blocking refugees and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S., Lyft announced that it was giving $1 million to the ACLU.

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“Trump’s immigration ban is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values,” CEO Logan Green tweeted.

The same day, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and “anyone not allowed in the U.S.” The company previously pledged to develop a program that would let Airbnb hosts temporarily take in refugees, along with creating jobs for Syrian refugees in Jordan. (The pledge was made under the former White House Partnership for Refugees, now run by Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya’s Tent Foundation).

On Sunday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a letter to employees expressing his concern. “We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question,” he wrote, and outlined what the company is doing in response.

Starbucks is planning to hire 10,000 refugees around the world in the next five years. The company also reimburses the fee paid by “Dreamers,” the undocumented children of immigrants who are allowed to work under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which Trump is considering ending. Schultz also talked about the importance of Mexico to Starbucks, both as a coffee supplier and a growing market.

Other business leaders expressed their anger about the new administration without announcing specific action. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote that Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees and “are so un-American it pains us all” and that “it is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity.”

[Photo: Flickr user Elvert Barnes]

Aaron Levie, CEO of the data storage company Box, tweeted that “On every level–moral, humanitarian, economic, logical, etc.–this ban is wrong and is completely antithetical to the principles of America.” Microsoft issued a statement saying that the ban is “misguided and a fundamental step backwards.”

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Of course, not every business or CEO is so emphatic. Elon Musk, now a member of Trump’s economic advisory board, tweeted that the entry ban was “not the best way to address the country’s challenges,” and then asked people to read the immigration order and suggest amendments (one suggestion: change everything).

But a growing number of companies, especially tech companies, are taking a stand. Y Combinator CEO Sam Altman, who attended the weekend protest at San Francisco International Airport, wrote that the tech community “must object, or our inaction will send a message that the administration can continue to take away our rights.” (It should be noted that Peter Thiel, a prominent Trump advisor, is also associated with Y Combinator and Altman continues to defend the connection.) As he wrote on his blog:

We need to hear from the CEOs clearly and unequivocally. Although there is some business risk in doing so, there is strength in numbers—if everyone does it early this coming week, we will all make each other stronger.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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