Corporate America Needs to Calm Down

Trump’s EO isn’t personal, it’s national security.

In the wake of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning people from countries known to be breeding grounds for terrorism, corporate America is joining the ranks of those flipping out.

In America, the freedom of expression is a beautiful thing — the people who operate companies that were built here that make our way of life better have just as much of a right to support or oppose the president’s decisions as anyone else does. But that doesn’t necessarily mean their support or opposition hits the mark.

Companies against Trump

Within 24 hours of the order, Buzzfeed published a piece profiling several companies that disagree with the policy. The story was updated as the list grew. They even kept track of the companies (like Amazon) who hadn’t responded immediately.

Companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook were disappointed in the ban and criticized it. Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted, “[T]he blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was so frustrated by the order he promised to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years as a way to voice his opposition.

Meanwhile, CEO  Jeff Bezos issued a statement opposing the EO, saying: “We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years. No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants. It’s a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken.”

Don’t muddle the issue. This is about national security

Granted, the order was, as billionaire businessman Mark Cuban told CNN “half-***ed and half-baked;” it was implemented poorly and clauses regarding green cards should have been fleshed out completely. But the language regarding refugees is not unlike the temporary ban President Obama placed on Iraqi refugees entering the United States in 2011. As John Hart said in his piece on the topic,

“[T]he number of refugees the Trump administration will allow in the country (50,000) is roughly between the Bush and Obama administration averages.” Yet when Obama implemented a similar ban for the purpose of strengthening national security measures, there was little backlash politically, and hardly any (if at all) from corporate America. Everyone understood in 2011 it was a national security issue and it still is in 2017.

In this case, it seems like many wonderful corporations that people rely on daily to function (hello, Starbucks), have taken personally an executive order that isn’t meant to make people feel bad that their grandparents were immigrants. The point is to re-focus our defense efforts and enforce national security in a way that hasn’t been done in awhile.

The order isn’t about restricting just anyone from coming to the United States. It’s about identifying countries where terrorism proliferates, then stopping individuals from those countries from re-locating here. The order is titled, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” not, “We Don’t Want You to Hire that Millennial From India.” It’s disingenuous to claim Trump is interfering in the free market when he’s simply not.

The order isn’t about restricting just anyone from coming to the United States. It’s about identifying countries where terrorism proliferates, then stopping individuals from those countries from re-locating here.

Add to that immigration statistics and corporate America’s outrage seems all the more puzzling. Of the top countries from which people immigrate to the United States, none were included in the countries in the president’s temporary ban (i.e., Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen). As has been the case since Ellis Island opened its doors, people come here all the time, but the majority of new immigrants don’t flock here from the countries on the watch-list.  “In 2014, 1.3 million foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, an 11 percent increase from 1.2 million in 2013. India was the leading country of origin for new immigrants, with 147,500 arriving in 2014, followed by China with 131,800, Mexico with 130,000, Canada with 41,200, and the Philippines with 40,500.” This doesn’t mean refugees or immigrants from those seven countries don’t pose a terrorist threat — but it does raise the issue: If more people are coming to America from India, why not offer to hire those people, rather than refugees from countries that foster terrorism?

Pro hiring or pro political correctness?

There’s now an active boycott against Starbucks in retaliation for Schultz committing to hiring refugees. Boycotts seem to happen as often as Starbucks opens new stores — and perhaps both fit the American ideal in a way — but if Schultz was so committed to refugees, why didn’t he pledge to hire 10,000 last summer?

If Schultz wants to hire 10,000 Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, or Canadians to whip up venti iced mochas, he’d be lauded for doing so. More jobs are always better than fewer (all things being legal, that is). He just can’t, in the next few months, hire refugees from countries that pose a threat. This isn’t a halt on hiring; it’s a boost on national security measures. The timing of this makes clear that this is more about making a political statement rather than a genuine desire to boost the economy.

I doubt even high profile corporations want refugees from Syria tied to terrorist organizations working for them, so what are they trying to say? They are taking personally what’s merely a national security issue. They are putting political correctness over security which is dangerous and which would ultimately harm their very own corporations.

The most effective political statement, as the owner of a company, is to make and sell the best product possible. This boosts sales, which creates more jobs, which boosts the economy, which puts power in the hands of the people to make their own choices about which politicians hold office.

Nicole Russell is a contributor for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @nmrussell2.