October 8, 2023

Tech Firms Find Their Voice and Trump Listens

Tech Firms Find Their Voice and Trump Listens

The crisis unfolding at the Texas-Mexico border has been nothing short of gross injustice to human rights. With over 2000 children being separated from their families in the last 6 weeks alone, the Trump administration has been slammed from all ends with many seeing this policy as an unpardonable atrocity.

While US business leaders were slow to raise their voice, raise it has. Ranging from Airbnb, to Microsoft and Facebook to the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Round Table – there has been a unanimous call for the Trump administration to end this “cruel and heartless” separation policy immediately. It’s been interesting to see that technology firms are leading corporate America's fight against this immigration order and emerging as the strongest critics of the Trump administration. Major airlines across the country including American Airlines and United Airlines have openly opposed the policy by refusing to be involved in transporting separated children despite harsh criticism from Homeland Security Department.

Looks like this the latest in a series of tests that are resulting in an increasingly strained relationship between Corporate America and the White House. After all, this is not the first time that Corporate America has raised its voice to the Trump administration. Remember the time when many CEOs left President Donald Trump's business advisory council in droves last year post the Charlottesville white supremacists racist attacks? Also, who can forget the Muslim ban that prevented entry from seven majority-Muslim countries? It resulted in the behemoths including Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Uber, Intel among many others to file a legal brief along with the creation of a 400-member strong coalition that condemned the immigration policy. Not long after that, two high profile CEOs including Disney’s Chief Executive, Bob Iger and SpaceX’s outspoken leader, Elon Musk, quit the White House business advisory council for abandoning the Paris climate agreement. Will the trade war against China be next on Corporate America’s agenda? While the Trump administration is looking to restrict Chinese access to US technologies, it could cause chaos in the global technology sector considering China’s sheer market size and clout. There’s no denying the influence that the tech community has and the ability to swing political decisions especially if it’s considered harmful to businesses in the long run. It will be interesting to see if tech giants join together to address this issue. Tim Cook has been among the first to take the onus and has already openly stated that he will take a stand on specific issues like human rights, privacy, immigration, education etc. "For Apple, we've always been about changing the world. And it became clear to me some number of years ago that you don't do that by staying quiet on things that matter." - says Tim Cook.

The sheer inhumanity unfolding at the US-Mexico border has been a moment of reckoning forcing the normally ambivalent tech titans to push back at their President. Now that they have succeeded, the genie is out of the box and we will see a lot more political activism coming from Silicon Valley. Hopefully, it will push America and the world towards a more egalitarian, open society.