Google creates $4 million crisis fund for immigration cause

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Pichai Sundararajan, known as Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google Inc. speaks during an event to introduce Google Pixel phone and other Google products on October 4, 2016 in San Francisco, California. The Google Pixel is intended to challenge the Apple iPhone in the premium smartphone category. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

Google executives are matching their deeds with donations.

The search-engine giant has created a $2 million crisis fund that can be matched with up to $2 million in donations from employees, totaling $4 million, for four organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, International Rescue Committee and UNHCR. It is Google’s largest crisis campaign ever.

Separately, company executives are also giving money individually to the cause.

The campaign was disclosed in a memo sent by Google CEO Sundar Pichai and confirmed by a Google spokeswoman late Sunday.

The grant comes a day after Pichai voiced strong objections to President Trump’s controversial immigration ban and company co-founder Sergey Brin participated in a protest at San Francisco International Airport.

Executives at Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb and Tesla Motors have denounced the policy, which was temporarily stalled by a federal judge in New York Saturday night.

The order could greatly disrupt the businesses of tech companies, which rely heavily on foreign-born workers. In a staff memo, Pichai said the move affects at least 187 of the Internet giant’s staff.

“We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could 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.”

FILE - People march in support of immigrants and refugees in Seattle, Washington on January 29, 2017. © JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images FILE – People march in support of immigrants and refugees in Seattle, Washington on January 29, 2017.

The president’s executive order suspends the entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, halts the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and bars entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Other tech companies took concrete, if smaller, actions as well. Airbnb announced it would work to find free, temporary places to stay for refugees and others affected by the travel ban.

In an email sent to employees Saturday night, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote that Trump’s policy was one, “I profoundly disagree with, and it is a direct obstacle to our mission at Airbnb.”

“Barring refugees and people who are not a threat from entering America simply because they are from a certain country is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected. The doors to America shall remain open, and any that are locked will not be for long,” he wrote on the note, which was posted on the company site on Sunday.

The San Francisco-based company has been responding to requests by individuals and is also working with relief organizations to find people in need of temporary housing. Airbnb hosts can also sign up to provide free housing through a link on the company’s site.

Jon Swartz

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