Airbnb CEO offers free housing to refugees after Trump’s immigration ban
The unconditional offer was made by Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb. “Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected,” Chesky wrote on Twitter on Saturday evening.
He said in a subsequent message that “Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stay tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing.”
The company’s announcement comes just a day after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that temporarily bans entry to refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Syria. The order left many people stranded at major airports around the country, while others overseas were barred from boarding US-bound flights.
Later in the day, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that people holding green cards, which make them permanent legal US residents, as well as dual nationals who are citizens of a country on the ban list, were included in the order.
Chesky’s criticism of Trump’s order, which human rights groups have slammed as stigmatizing and unconstitutional, has been echoed by other billionaires and start-up founders. Sergey Brin, who comes from a family of Russian immigrants, joined the protest at San Francisco International Airport. “I’m here because I’m a refugee,” he said.
Trump’s immigration ban has apparently sent shockwaves through major US tech companies. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said the company employs 76 people from the affected countries, while the company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, wrote in a LinkedIn post: “As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has made it clear that his company “would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do,” according to a memo sent to employees worldwide and obtained by USA Today. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was born to a family of Syrian immigrants.
Uber founder Travis Kalanick also lambasted the decision earlier on Saturday, while announcing that his company will be offering compensation to drivers who have returned to their home countries to visit their families, but cannot re-enter the US. “This order has far broader implications as it also affects thousands of drivers who use Uber and come from the listed countries,” Kalanick said on Facebook.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to be the first among Western leaders to take a stand against Trump’s order. “To those fleeing persecution, terror AND war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength,” Trudeau posted on Twitter.
Trudeau, who granted entry to almost 40,000 Syrian refugees last year, also posted a photo from a meeting he had with a young refugee at a Canadian airport in 2015. The Canadian PM refrained from openly criticizing Trump, however, notwithstanding their very different political views.