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Google Employees, Executives Rally Against Trump Immigration Order

Variety logo Variety 1/31/2017 Janko Roettgers
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Google employees in multiple cities across the U.S. and beyond held rallies against President Trump’s executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven countries from entering the United States Monday afternoon. Speakers at a rally on Google’s campus in Mountain View, Calif. included employees directly affected by the order as well as Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google founder Sergey Brin.

The protests came after executives from multiple technology companies had spoken out against the executive order this past weekend. Google also responded by offering matching grands of up to $2 million for donations raised by its employees for the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil  and refugee rights organizations.

One of the speakers, Iranian-born product manager Soufi Esmaelizadeh, retold how she was temporarily stuck in limbo this past week after traveling to Zurich for work reasons, only to find her phone buzzing with messages about the order as soon as her plane touched ground. “I just thought this couldn’t be true,” she said.

Esmaelizadeh contacted the Google legal team to figure out whether she could return to the United States, and was initially advised against it. Only after a judge had struck down the order, she was told to board a plane immediately, and made it back safely Sunday. “This executive order is racist, unconstitutional and needs to be revoked,” Esmaelizadeh said to loud cheers of the crowd.

Another speaker, a U.S. citizen or Iranian descent identified only by her first name, told the crowd in an emotional testimony that she met her husband during a trip to Iran two years ago. The two continued a long-distance relationship, and went through the legal process to have him join her in the U.S. this spring. “We were planning to get married this March,” she said. Her husband had already been approved for a visum, which was cancelled indefinitely after Trump’s executive order was instituted last Friday.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the crowd that it had been difficult for the company to figure out how to respond to the order and deal with cases like this one, but that he felt encouraged by Googlers standing up and taking part in protests. “Every step, I felt the support of 65,000 people behind me,” he said.

“There are some values that you should never be compromising on,” he continued, imploring Googlers to continue to speak out. “We need to stand together,” he said. “The fight will continue.”

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