Howard Schultz, the Jewish billionaire CEO of Starbucks, said his company plans to hire 10,000 refugees over five years in a letter to employees addressing President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States.
“We have all been witness to the confusion, surprise and opposition to the Executive Order that President Trump issued on Friday, effectively banning people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, including refugees fleeing wars,” Schultz wrote in a message sent Sunday titled “Living Our Values in Uncertain Times.”
“I can assure you that our Partner Resources team has been in direct contact with the partners who are impacted by this immigration ban, and we are doing everything possible to support and help them to navigate through this confusing period,” said Schultz, a Democratic Party supporter.
Schultz wrote that the “conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream” are being called into question. He added: “I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack.”
Schultz said the efforts to hire refugees will begin in the United States and focus on refugees who served with US troops as interpreters and support personnel in foreign countries. He said refugees over the five years will come from 75 countries.
Other areas in which Schultz said he will help employees includes support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Dreamers program, including paying the biennial fee that his employees must pay to stay in the program; continuing to assist and buy from coffee farmers in Mexico, and to continue to offer access to health care through Starbucks.
Schultz also defended Mexico, which Trump has said will have to pay for a wall along its long and porous border with the United States to deter immigrants, perhaps by imposing a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports.
“Building bridges, not walls, with Mexico,” he wrote, voicing support for the country that has provided Starbucks with coffee for three decades and where nearly 600 Starbucks coffee shops employ 7,000 people.
“We stand ready to help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families as they navigate what impact proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes might have on their business and their trust of Americans.
“But we will continue to invest in this critically important market all the same.”
Other companies also expressed solidarity and pledged hard cash. Lyft, a US ridesharing company, said it would donate $1-million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has issued lawsuits against Trump’s measures.
The company’s competitor Uber — which had come under fire on social media for continuing to operate during a New York taxi strike against the immigration ban — said it was committed to assisting drivers affected by the restrictions.
After a number of Silicon Valley bosses at the weekend slammed Trump’s sweeping immigration crackdown, several East Coast executives pledged their support to employees.
General Electric has “many employees from the named countries and we do business all over the region,” said CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
“We stand with them and will work with the US Administration to strive to find the balance between the need for security and the movement of law abiding people.”
JPMorgan Chase CEO , who is on a council of corporate bosses tasked with advising Trump on job growth, promised “unwavering commitment” to staff in a statement.