Amazon and Expedia filed declarations supporting Washington state’s lawsuit over President Trump’s controversial immigration ban Monday evening.
The statements outline how each Seattle-area technology company is adversely affected by Trump’s executive order, which blocks the entry of immigrants, from seven predominantly Muslim countries, for 90 days and refugees for 120 days.
The lawsuit, filed by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, accuses the Trump administration of violating the Constitution’s guarantee of Equal Protection, the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the right to due process, and the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
The complaint also says the order is “separating Washington families, harming thousands of Washington residents, damaging Washington’s economy, hurting Washington-based companies, and undermining Washington’s sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees.” Ferguson says the operations and recruiting of several Washington companies, including Amazon, Expedia, and Microsoft, could be damaged by the executive order.
Here’s how the complaint describes the threat:
Microsoft’s U.S. workforce is heavily dependent on immigrants and guest workers. At least 76 employees at Microsoft are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen and hold U.S. temporary work visas. There may be other employees with permanent-resident status or green cards. These employees may be banned from re-entering the U.S. if they travel overseas or to the company’s offices in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Seattle-based company Amazon also employs workers from every corner of the world. Amazon’s employees, dependents of employees, and candidates for employment with Amazon have been impacted by the Executive Order that is the subject of this Complaint. Amazon has advised such employees currently in the United States to refrain from travel outside the United States.
Bellevue-based company Expedia operates a domestic and foreign travel business. At the time of this filing, Expedia has approximately 1,000 customers with existing flight reservations in or out of the United States who hold passports from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen. The executive orders restrict business, increase business costs, and impact current employees and employers.
Amazon and Expedia have thrown their weight behind the lawsuit, each issuing a declaration of support. The two Seattle-area companies added their voice to a chorus of tech industry leaders criticizing the executive order.
In Expedia’s declaration of support, the company said it is working with each of the affected travelers to find solutions and says the order “creates significant difficulties for the operation of Expedia’s business.”
“Expedia believes that the Executive Order jeopardizes its corporate mission and could have a detrimental impact on its business and employees, as well as the broader U.S. and global travel and tourism industry,” said Expedia’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President Robert Dzielak in the declaration.
The company says it is incurring costs related to its customers and covering legal counsel and immigration services for its employees who are affected by the order.
Ayesha Blackwell-Hawkins, Senior Manager of Mobility and Immigration at Amazon, said the order “immediately — and negatively — impacted employees, dependents of employees, and candidates for employment with Amazon,” in a declaration supporting the AG’s lawsuit. Amazon has 49 employees born in one of the countries identified by Trump, 47 of which still have citizenship in another country, according to the statement.
Amazon identified seven Iranian job candidates who may now be placed in roles outside of the United States. The company also noted that Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of the Amazon Studios film, “The Salesman,” may not be able to attend the Academy Awards, where his movie is up for Best Foreign Film.
Microsoft did not file a formal declaration of support but is working with the Washington state attorney general’s office to help with the lawsuit. “We’ve already been in contact with the AG’s office over the weekend, providing them with information on the impact on Microsoft and our employees, in order to be supportive,” a Microsoft spokesperson told GeekWire. “And we’d be happy to testify further if needed.”
Immigration is a crucial issue for the technology community, as many companies, like those identified in the complaint, rely on skilled workers from other countries to meet their talent needs.
“Immigration is an important economic driver in Washington,” the complaint says. “Many workers in Washington’s technology industry are immigrants, and many of those immigrant workers are from Muslim-majority countries. Immigrant and refugee-owned businesses employ 140,000 people in Washington. Many companies in Washington are dependent on foreign workers to operate and grow their businesses.”
President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night after she said that Justice Department lawyers would not defend the executive order against lawsuits. Washington is the first state to sue the Trump administration over the order, though attorneys general in Hawaii and Pennsylvania are reportedly considering filing similar complaints.
Read Amazon and Expedia’s declarations of support, as well as the Washington state Attorney General’s complaint, below.