Reactions to President Trumps executive order placinga three-monthban on entry to the U.S.from seven majority Muslim countries have been rippling out across the Atlantic overthe past 48 hours with figures fromthe U.K. tech industry adding their voices to a general chorus of dismay.
In commentaries to TechCrunch, Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge carried her own qualms about the policy branding it unconstitutional, unethical and immoral. The U.S.-born investorhas become a lynchpinofthe U.K. tech ecosystem since arriving in London as an immigrant from the U.S. more than 10 years ago to take a job atSkype.
As an American, born and raised in the Nations by immigrant parents, I was incredibly shocked and saddened to see the executive heads order issued and the haste and disarray with which it was implemented the following morning, she said via email when asked for her thoughts.
Being in the Country these last few days has given me a firsthand position of how tremendously people have rallied to exercise their first amendment rights in carrying their objections to this unlawful, unconstitutional, unethical and immoral order and seeing that gives me hope. It reminds me that we each have a voice and our collective voices can make a difference. It also reminds me that silence can be deafening, so I hope people and leaders all around the world will continue to make their views known whatever those may be.
People have rallied to exert their first amendment rights in conveying their objections to this unlawful, unconstitutional, unethical and immoral order and seeing that gives me hope .
Brexit and the ban
In the U.K. the perception among somein the tech industryisthatPrime Minister Theresa Maysdesire to cuta post-Brexit trade deal( following last summertimes referendum vote for the U.K. to leave the European Union) is overruling all further consideration leaving her biting her lip rather than denouncing an inhumanepolicy toward refugees, as other heads of state have.
The simple truth is its important for the U.K. to get a trade enter into negotiations with the U.S ., and right now that looks like a sure thing, said one London-based tech director who works for acompany withoffices in both countries, and who reached out tous with details ofhow the ban isaffecting teammorale.
They cant and wont jeopardize that unless there is a cast iron occurrence that Trump is really being a fascist If we had three to four solid trade deals in place for post-Brexit I think it would be a different story.
The source went on to describe their squad members sentiments on theimmigration banas ranging from Im so worried I cant focus on work to Its very targeted, precise and temporary, so Im not fretted, adding: There are still lots of people who are captives of hope. Saying things like I hope he isnt even worse as he seems lets wait and ensure. They also noted some staff are voicing very concerned about traveling to the U.S.
The executive order stops travel for three months while proper policies are put in place its those policies that will be the super interesting ones, they added.
While Burbidge wouldnt be drawn intocriticizing U.K. government policy vis–vis Trump perhaps unsurprisingly, devoted she remains an advisor tothe government on tech policy, including serving as a member of the Prime Ministers Business Advisory Group she did call for U.S. allies to hold Trumpto regular account.
Her Twitter account also records her liking a tweet by London Mayor Sadiq Khan calling for Trump to be denied a state visit to the U.K. until he lifts the ban.
President Trump didnt win the popular election but thats not even the point. Even a popular vote or a president elected by the will of the people can construction poor decisions from is high time to day, she added. We, the people he has been elected to serve and those around the world who are friends, friends and trading partners with the United States, need to stay informed and hold him to regular account.
One founder likely tobedirectly affected by the ban, Cloud 66 s Khash Sajadi, has been explicit in calling out May for failing to condemn Trumps actionloudly enough. Hewas born in Iran but has British citizenship( and currently works in the U.S .), and argues the policy has rendered him a second class citizen.
What constructs me feel like this today is how my country, Britain, responded to this decision: with silence, he writes in a Mediumblog post. While other world leaders, like Justin Trudeau the Canadian Prime Minister was quick to seek clarification from the US authorities and insist on all Canadian citizens being treated equally and without prejudice about their place of birth, my Prime Minister is willing to indicate I am a second class citizen in my country.
Last week May became the first international leader to meet the freshly inaugurated President Trump, with the stated aim of get the prospect of post-Brexit trade talks on hisradar, and renewing the terms of the so-called Special Relationship the phrase thats traditionally used to distinguishdiplomatic relations betweenthe U.S. and the U.K.
But shehas hadlittle to say publiclysince Trumps entry ban was announced, despite apparently being aware thepolicy shiftwas incomingsince Friday telling reporters that U.S. immigration policy is a matter for the U.S. government.
Under increasing pressurefor not condemning the policy, May expandedher commentsslightly on Sunday, sayingshe does not agree with the ban. She also saidthe government would help any U.K. nationals affected by the policy. But she remains under fire for atepid and reticent response.
There has furthermore been disarray about whether the ban applies to dual U.K. nationalswho also hold citizenship in one of the listed countries as, for example, Sajadi does.
An update onthe U.K.s Foreign& Commonwealth Office websiteyesterdaysuggested such individualswould not be denied entry to the U.S. However, advice fromthe U.S. embassy appeared to contradict that until earlier today.
In commentaries to TechCrunch, Sajadi gave a personal flavor ofthe impact of this disarray. There was and still is, embarrassment over this as the US Embassy in London had a page with a warning about dual nationals and their visa appointments which is now taken down. So I believe things are not yet clear and if I were to travel to the US there is a good chance of me being tangled up in some administrative confusion which could cost myself and our business dearly.
On the visa ban issue, I would expect Mays government to be transparent and upfront about this with the public and those affected, he added, when asked for positions on the U.K. governments stance. There has been way too much disarray, costing small and medium-sized companies like us a lot and plenty of nervousnes on a personal level.
As for the government response to the ban in general, I feel she has put her political interests before fundamental human compassion( and perhaps international conventions) by not taking a firmer stance. Following her logic can we assume she might one day say it is up to the US to change its position and reiterate slavery but we are going to have our own policy? There are some lines that our government should not cross and one in this case is the terrible situation of the refugees from Syria.
At the time of this writing a petition on the U.K. parliament website calling for the forthcoming state visit of Trump to the U.K. to be called off until he repeals the ban has passed 1.5 million signatures.