Protesters gathered at Google’s headquarters on Monday to protest immigration policies from the new federal administration, using hashtag “NoBanNoWall.”
A crowd at the Mountain View, California headquarters, as well as offices in San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and around the world, held signs reading “Ban fascists, not religions,” and “Free hugs for an Iranian.” A person at the rally told CNBC that Google CEO Sundar Pichai and cofounder Sergey Brin spoke there, and Brin expressed gratitude for being admitted to the United States from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
The demonstration was organized by employees, and more than 2,000 attended, according to a person who was there.
The demonstration came after a executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority nations and indefinitely banning Syrian refugees spurred protests over the weekend at airports around the country. Google established a $4 million fund for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, International Rescue Committee, UNHCR and American Civil Liberties Union, (one of the main organizations fighting the ban).
The keynote speaker at Google’s Mountain View headquarters was Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, a product manager on Google Assistant, who was on a plane from San Francisco to Zurich when rumors began to leak that the executive order would be signed.
An Iranian-born Canadian citizen who has lived in the U.S. for the past 15 years, Esmaeilzadeh attended Brown University and Harvard Business School and had been working at Google for more than five years. At first, Google lawyers suggested she stay in Zurich indefinitely so as not to risk being deported, but after a federal judge upheld a request to hold off implementing the ban, Google quickly flew her back into the United States via Dublin and Boston.
President Donald Trump has downplayed protests of the ban, tweeting Monday: “There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country. This was a big part of my campaign. Study the world!” Google shares fell more than 2.5 percent on Monday.