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ACLU Meets Silicon Valley

Where Ideological Meets Practical

By Luz Gonzalez

All those institutions that sue the federal government, protecting the rights of American residents, providing a safety barrier particularly for the underserved and underrepresented, are going to be working overtime in the Trump administration.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), along with other organizations, sued Donald Trump over his executive order blocking refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Federal judges in New York, Boston, Alexandria, and Seattle immediately issued injunctions against the ban, thereby preventing those impacted and stranded at airports from being deported back to their native country.

Probably most recognized throughout the news media as being affected  was engineer Hameed Khalid Darweesh, a man of Iraqi descent, who had worked as a federal government interpreter employee from 2003-2010.  By now, we all know he and an estimated 48 others legal residents, who were stranded at airports, have been released and are back with their families in the U.S.  But, assuredly, it was an unnecessarily chaotic, harassing, and fearful weekend for many, with Darweesh himself being held in handcuffs for an approximate 17 hours. Think about that.  A legal U.S. resident was held in handcuffs, no prior notice, no legal explanation, for 17 hours.

While the ACLU is largely considered an organization that promotes and supports liberal causes, America’s arguably most recognized libertarian think-tank joined in with the argument and criticism.  David Bier of Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty stated this regarding the order’s illegality:

“Mr. Trump appears to want to reinstate a new type of Asiatic Barred Zone by executive order, but there is one problem, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin replacing the old prejudicial system and giving each country an equal shot at quotas. In signing the new law, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, the ‘harsh injustice’ of the national-origins quota system had been ‘abolished’.

This type of cooperation between two seemingly unlikely organizations demonstrates an integrity of purpose – defending the civil liberties of Americans and upholding the Constitution – something that seems to be currently in short supply in DC from both the White Office and the GOP led Congress.

However, probably the most significant evidence of antipathy towards the Trump ban comes from the people of the United States.  The ACLU, which normally receives donations of $4 million annually, over the weekend received $24 million, or six times its annual revenue in just 3 days.

The unintended consequences and national outrage did not stop there.  Silicon Valley took notice and took action.  While there were multiple demonstrations at airports across the United States, San Francisco International Airport had the likes of Sergey Brin (Co-founder of Google) and Sam Altman (President of Y Combinator) join in the protests.

The inclusion of Y Combinator is probably the most significant in terms of long-term impact for the ACLU.  Y Combinator, recognized as an American seed accelerator, and who Fast Company called “the world’s most powerful start-up incubator”, committed to partnering with the ACLU to help it grow, thus ultimately enabling them to defend more constitutional and civil rights of Americans, aforementioned as being of increasing need because of the Trump presidency and its attacks on American values and the individual rights of its residents.

Certainly, it was an open act of defiance from Altman, who also penned a blog titled “Time to Take A Stand”, but it was just as importantly a recognition of the importance of Silicon Valley and tech employees, who are approximately 37.4% foreign born. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella similarly took measures to recognize, appreciate, and protect their hardworking employees when they sent emails detailing their displeasure with Trump’s ban.

The Trump Press Office has made much to do about the administration’s deals with Carrier and Ford.  Ignoring the issue of whether Trump was truly the catalyst for saving jobs at the companies, and accepting Trump’s claim that he saved 1,100 Carrier jobs (not the 730 the company is claiming will remain in the U.S.), and remaining mute to Trump’s threat of a 35% tariff which would be passed along to consumers, and taking a similar stance as Trump by forgetting to admit that automation will replace many of the workplace jobs he claims to have “saved”, and not thinking or admitting that Trump’s attacks on regulations carte blanche, without expertise or knowledge, could hurt women and children egregiously, the numbers do not add up even remotely to helping Americans or the American economy.

Technology and STEM careers are increasingly the industry and jobs of the future.  Currently the tech industry employs around 6.7 million workers in the United States, and was largely responsible for the job growth in 46 states. Given the Silicon Valley figures, of those 6.7 million employees 2,505,808 are foreign workers. Additionally, of the top ten technology companies in the world – Apple ($741.8B value), Alphabet ($367.6B), Microsoft ($340.8B), Facebook ($231,6B), Samsung ($199.4B), Oracle ($187.6B), Tenent ($181.1B), Intel ($147.2B), Cisco ($139B), IBM ($160.2B) – 8 are United States companies whose value add significantly to the U.S. economy. Therefore, their workers, all their workers, add significantly to our job growth and economic health.

From another perspective, and strictly mathematically, Carrier with a 45,000 workforce and Ford with a 199,000 workforce do not compare to the above statistics for tech industry jobs and the risk Trump has committed by catering to hallow campaign promises meant to appease a certain section of hysteria in America but having very little truth in significance in the overall jobs growth picture for today or forward thinking to the needs of the next generation.

To be sure, any saved American job is important to the person and family, and I celebrate such a success.  However, one must be honest and measure the actions from a comprehensive policy viewpoint for its mission effectiveness.  In this case to increase American jobs, the economy, and the overall standard-of -American-living.

While some might say that Silicon Valley catered to its bottom line in protesting Trump’s immigrant ban, others, myself included, acknowledge their efforts for what it is, a place where ideology meets practicality.

It certainly was ideology that convinced Nike’s CEO Mike Parker to join others in the non tech industry, like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos,  Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted, and Ford CEO Mark Fields, in speaking out about the ban.

“Nike believes in a world where everyone celebrates the power of diversity. Regardless of whether or how you worship, where you come from or who you love, everyone’s individual experience is what makes us stronger as a whole.

“Those values are being threatened by the recent executive order in the U.S. banning refugees, as well as visitors, from seven Muslim-majority countries. This is a policy we don’t support.

“Some companies have already voiced their concerns about this decision and we join them in their call for an open and diverse society and culture in the U.S. and around the globe. It goes without saying that our commitment to the U.S. market and our people in America remains unchanged despite this current political climate.’

Poorly conceived, horrifically administered, discriminatorily representative, universally disdained. No, not Trump, although I can see why you might think that, the immigrant ban.

Indeed, time to take a stand.

 

 

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About Luz Gonzalez (6 Articles)
Mom, Educator, State Director Florida Parents Against Common Core, Former Member Miami Dade Republican Executive Committee, Former National School Choice Week Miami Representative, Past President OCRWC

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