Although employees of the industry giant organized the walkout and protest, they had the full support of management. The employees who left work are employed in eight Google offices around the world. Both Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai spoke at the largest rally held outside the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Both Brin and Pichai came to the United States as immigrants.
The protests were organized on social media using the hashtag #GooglersUnite. This was paired up with the hashtag #NoBanNoWall.
Brin, who came from the former Soviet Union at the age of six as a refugee, told the crowd he was “outraged” at the executive order issued Friday. He said he and his family came to the United States at the height of the cold war. At that time there was the risk of nuclear annihilation and the U.S. was considered the Soviet Union’s greatest enemy. Yet the United States took his family in.
Brin also told the protest the U.S. “was a brave country” and said the debate is about ‘fundamental values.”
Pinchai, who was born in India, also addressed the crowd.“ He said “There is something, there are some values, which are really near and dear to your heart. It’s foundational and something you should never compromise on.” The CEO added, “The fight will continue.”
— William Rucklidge (@wjrucklidge) January 30, 2017
Both Brin and Pinchai appeared at previous protests of the executive order. Brin was at a large protest held on the weekend at San Francisco International Airport. Protests were held at several airports throughout the United States where refugees and visa holders were detained or refused admission as a direct result of the travel ban.
In addition to the protest, Google employees donated $2 million to a crisis fund that will be donated to groups supporting refugees. The company matched the donations by giving an additional $2 million to the fund.
The Verge reports one Google employee, Soufi Ezmaeilzadeh, is a Canadian citizen born in Iran. She travelled to Zurich on business and was in Europe when Trump’s executive order was signed. She was afraid if she returned to the United States she would be refused admittance and deported. The company told her to wait in Zurich while Google tried to sort things out.
After a federal judge granted a stay preventing the implementation of the executive order, Ezmaeilzadeh was able to return to the U.S.
Tech companies have been among the most vocal critics of Trump’s executive order. Many employees of these companies, including founders and those in the upper echelon of the tech firms, are foreign-born.
The executive order was signed by President Trump on Jan. 27 and imposed an immediate travel ban on seven countries: Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. The order suspends travel from these countries for 90 days. Admission of Syrian refugees has been suspended indefinitely and refugees from other countries will be banned for 120 days.