CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, who was one of the most outspoken challengers in the technology industry to Donald Trump’s candidacy during the presidential election, issued a strong statement on Monday afternoon opposing a recent executive order that banned refugees and visa holders from seven majority Muslim countries from traveling to the United States.
In a note to employees, the Amazon founder said that his company’s policy team had reached out to congressional leaders from both parties and that its legal team was preparing to support a lawsuit from the Washington State Attorney General against the order. On Monday, Reuters reported that Microsoft would also be cooperating with the attorney general’s office as well.
“We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years,” Bezos wrote. “No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants. It’s a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken.”
Bezos’ companywide email reaffirmed the points in a note sent on Saturday by Amazon Vice President of Human Resources Beth Galetti that the Seattle-based internet retailer was committed to backing its employees around the globe with any travel issues. While other tech industry CEOs, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix’s Reed Hastings, issued more immediate statements opposing the immigration order, Bezos, who met with Trump during a technology roundtable last month, waited almost three days after its Friday signing to weigh in.
Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, questioned President Trump’s fitness to lead the nation back in October.
“He’s not just going after the media, but threatening retribution to people who scrutinize him,” Bezos said on stage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in October. “He’s also saying he may not give a graceful concession speech if he loses the election. That erodes our democracy around the edges. He’s also saying he might lock up his opponent. These aren’t appropriate behaviors.”
The Amazon CEO later posted a conciliatory message to Twitter to the President following his election victory, promising to have an “open mind” for his administration.
Later on Thursday, the Washington State Attorney General filed its suit against Trump, making the state the first to sue the President over the executive order. Ayesha Blackwell-Hawkins, a senior manager of global mobility and immigration at Amazon, filed a declaration of support for the lawsuit on behalf of her employer and stated that the company had at least 49 employees born in one of the countries identified by the order. There are also seven candidates, all born in Iran but living in other countries, who have received outstanding offers for employment from the retailer, but are hindered by the order.
“From the very beginning, Amazon has been committed to equal rights, tolerance, and diversity–and we always will be,” her statement read. “As we’ve grown the company, we’ve worked hard to attract talented people from all over the world, and we believe this is one of the things that makes America great–a diverse workforce helps us build better products for customers.”