Media Companies Attack Trump's Executive Order on Immigration

January 31st, 2017 6:33 PM

On Monday, just three days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order preventing people in seven countries -- Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen -- from entering America for 90 days, executives from three media-based companies moved to protect any employees affected by the situation.

While executives from 21st Century Fox stated in a memo that they "deeply value diversity and believe immigration is an essential part of America’s strength," administrators from Amazon and Expedia submitted sworn statements to Bob Ferguson, Washington state's attorney general. highlighting the business harms they face as a result of the order.

Oliver Darcy -- politics editor for the Business Insider website -- reported that 21st Century Fox executives Lachlan and James Murdoch, sons of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, sent a memo to their employees which read in part: “This is a time of real uncertainty for many of our colleagues around the world.”

They also noted:

First of all, we want to assure you that we’re doing what we can to assist impacted colleagues and their families.

While details of the new policy remain in flux in many instances, we do know it has broad implications.

“Our immediate focus is on identifying and reaching out to people who may be affected,” the Murdochs added. “We are providing them with a range of support, including legal advice and assistance.”

They then stated that 21st Century Fox “is a global company, proudly headquartered in the U.S., founded by -- and comprising at all levels of the business -- immigrants. We deeply value diversity and believe immigration is an essential part of America’s strength.

“Moreover, as a company that is driven by creativity and innovation, we recognize the unique perspective offered by our many people who came to the U.S. in search of the opportunity for unfettered self-expression,” the brothers noted.

“We will continue to monitor developments in what is still a fluid situation,” they stated. “We will keep you informed as we learn more.”

“In the meantime, please know that the well-being of our colleagues is our top priority,” the Murdochs concluded.

According to an article by Hamza Shaban -- a reporter for the BuzzFeed website -- Ferguson filed a lawsuit on Monday to challenge the executive order and “is counting on the two Washington-based companies as allies.”

Robert Dzielak, Expedia's executive vice president and general counsel, wrote in a declaration:

Expedia believes that the executive order jeopardizes its corporate mission and could have a detrimental impact on its business and its employees, as well as the broader U.S. and global travel and tourism industry.

The direct financial impact to Expedia resulting from the executive order ranging from increased business costs to the broader impact on the global travel market is not yet known.

However, “more than 1,000 Expedia customers who hold passports from one of the seven affected countries … have current bookings that begin, end or connect in the United States,” Shaban stated.

“In addition, Expedia said several of its employees based in the U.S. and abroad will be prevented from traveling,” the reporter noted.

Also on Monday, Ayesha Blackwell-Hawkins, Amazon’s senior manager of mobility and immigration, said the executive order “immediately -- and negatively -- impacted employees, dependents of employees and candidates for employment” with the company.

“Amazon is aware of 49 employees born in one of the seven countries, 47 of whom are citizens of another country, while the remaining two have permanent legal residence elsewhere,” Shaban stated.

“One example of an impacted employee is a senior Amazon lawyer who was born in Libya but has been a U.K. citizen for many years,” Blackwell-Hawkins wrote. “This employee had plans to travel to the United States for business” in February. “We have instructed the employee to cancel her plans and remain in the U.K. rather than risk being denied entry to the United States.”

“In addition, Amazon has extended employment offers to seven people born in Iran but who are currently citizens of other countries: Germany, Canada and Australia,” the BuzzFeed reporter added.

According to Blackwell-Hawkins, Amazon is “assessing alternatives,” possibly placing them in other countries outside the U.S.

A spokesperson for Microsoft, another Washington-based business, told BuzzFeed News that the company “has been supportive and has provided information to the attorney general and is willing to provide further testimony if necessary.”

“Earlier in the day,” Shaban indicated, “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the president’s immigration order.”

The majority of Americans agree with the president,” Spicer said. “They recognize that the steps he’s taken were to keep this country safe and to make sure we didn’t look back and say ‘I wish we had done the following.’”