Confusion as Google recalls staff to U.S. amidst immigration order frenzy

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Following the new executive order on immigration by United States President, Donald Trump, Alphabet Inc.’s Google has told its affected staff travelling overseas to get back to the U.S immediately.

Bloomberg News reports that Google Chief Executive Officer, Sundar Pichai, slammed Mr. Trump’s move in a memo to employees, telling them that more than 100 company staff are affected by the order.

“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Mr. Pichai wrote in the memo.

“We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”

The comments underscore a growing rift between the Trump administration and several large U.S. technology companies, which include many immigrants in their ranks and have lobbied for fewer
immigration restrictions.

Mr. Trump had on Friday signed an executive order prohibiting entry by people from seven majority-Muslim nations for 90 days. Citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya would be banned from entering the U.S. for the period, while the government determines
what information it needs to safely admit visitors.

It was gathered that some visa and green-card holders were blocked from boarding flights to the U.S. after the order was issued. In the same vein, the New York Times reported that several people were being detained at U.S. airports when they arrived.

The Department of Homeland Security had issued a directive on Friday afternoon ordering the Customs and Border Control agency to enforce the order immediately.

“We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S.,” Google said in a statement.

“We’ll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.”

Some Google employees were travelling abroad and were trying to get back to the U.S. before the order took effect. The company asked them to reach out to Google’s security, travel, and immigration teams for assistance. It is unclear whether any of Google’s employees were
detained or blocked from boarding flights.

Employees affected by the immigration order work in the U.S. but just happened to be abroad either on work assignments or vacations. One employee rushed back from a trip to New Zealand to make it into the U.S. before the order was signed, Google’s Pichai wrote in his memo.

“We are advising our clients from those seven countries who have green cards or any type of H-1B visa not to travel outside the U.S.” said Ava Benach, a partner at immigration law firm Benach Collopy LLP, while noting that the order takes effect immediately.

“No one is really sure whether a green card holder from these seven countries can return to the U.S. now. It’s fairly clear that an H-1B visa holder can’t.”

The H-1B lets U.S. companies employ graduate-level workers from other countries in technical occupations such as technology, engineering and science.

“If anyone in these situations has the misfortune to have gone abroad recently, it’s a treacherous moment, possibly for green card holders too,” Ms. Benach said.

Other technology companies are likely in a similar situation, she added.


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