When President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week to ban people from certain countries from entering the United States, social media and the tech world lost their minds.
Trump included seven countries in the ban — those listed as terrorist hotbeds by the Obama administration. Those from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya would not be welcome in the U.S. for the next 90 days. Any processing of refugees is on hold for three months. It suspends the vetting of Syrian refugees indefinitely.
We should not be shocked by this executive order; we knew it was coming. But the manner in which it came is part of why protests erupted in airports across the country. Because Trump did not allow for those already in transit to gain entry into the U.S., the enforcement stranded hundreds of people here and abroad.
According to Bloomberg, Google's chief executive officer Sundar Pichai sent a message to any employees traveling outside the country to get back to the U.S. as quickly as possible. The company also noted it is concerned such policies could make it tougher to bring talent to the U.S.
Reed Hastings, the chief executive officer of Netflix, posted on Facebook that "Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all."
More than 1,000 people stranded because of the executive order placed calls to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Many of them took to Twitter to tell their stories.
Authorities detained several Iraqi refugees over the weekend upon arrival at John F. Kennedy International airport in New York. One of them had worked for the U.S. government in Iraq for 10 years. This man helped America, likely putting his life in danger, and now we won't let him in our country.
Ridesharing apps got into the thick of this debate as well. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance has many Muslim employees and directed all 19,000 drivers to go on a one-hour strike in protest of the executive order. After Uber drivers continued to work, the hashtag #deleteuber started trending as thousands of people vowed to never use the service again.
On Sunday, Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick sent employees an email saying the company will provide legal support for drivers trying to get back into the country. Uber will also compensate drivers for lost earnings and create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration services.
Airbnb stepped up and told TechCrunch that it will help those who are stranded. Three million homes are listed for rent on the site, and Airbnb says any refugees affected by this executive order will be able to stay in one of its homes for free.
Other technology companies chimed in with Tim Cook sending a company-wide email saying that Apple would not exist without immigration (Steve Jobs' father was an immigrant from Syria). Twitter tweeted that its company "is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always." And Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg posted, "We should also keep our doors open to refugees and those who need help. That's who we are."
The executive order explains that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence will decide what we need to do to make sure refugees do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the U.S. I don't disagree with this task, but the way the ban went into effect was not ideal. There must have been a way to ease into this action without stranding hundreds of people and leaving others utterly confused as to their status.
And there are other problems with the execution of this ban. The executive order specifically cites the Sept. 11 attacks, saying no one looked closely enough at the visa applications of the attackers. Problem is, none of those men was from the seven countries listed in this ban. Critics online are slamming this action, using the hashtag #MuslimBan because the seven countries included each have a Muslim majority.
Trump pointed out on Facebook that more than 40 other countries not included in the ban also have a majority of Muslims, but here's the catch: One part of the executive order reads that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may decide to admit certain refugees to the U.S. under specific circumstances. One possible exception would be when the person is in a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution.
The only people in a religious minority facing religious persecution in any of the banned countries are Christian. Muslims would never fall into that category. So when it boils down to it, is it truly a #MuslimBan? You decide. And then use social media — like everyone else — to tell the world what you think.