Airbnb Challenges Trump’s Ban, Hosts Refugees

SAN FRANCISCO – An online marketplace and homestay network has offered to host citizens of some Muslim-majority countries who became stranded in American airports, a few hours after US president signed an executive order banning their entry.

“Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected,” Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, wrote on Twitter on Saturday evening, January 28.

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He added 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.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed later 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.

The ban has been widely slammed by human rights groups as stigmatizing and unconstitutional.

Along with Chesky’s criticism, Google cofounder Sergey Brin, who comes from a family of Russian immigrants, joined the protest at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday night.

“I’m here because I’m a refugee,” he said.

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.