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Tech and gaming giants challenge Trump's immigration order

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, among 97 companies filing amicus brief over recent ban, say new rules already hurting US businesses

US President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration is proving unpopular in Silicon Valley. A group of 97 companies including tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Wikimedia yesterday filed a court brief lending their weight to the Washington Attorney General's lawsuit seeking to overturn the order.

According to the companies' brief, "The Order represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years-and the Order inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth as a result. The Order makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world's best employees. It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies' ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States."

Trump's executive order created a number of new immigration policies, a handful of which have sparked controversy. Two of the order's most contentious policies--a ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries and a 120-day freeze on the refugee admissions program--were shelved on Friday when a federal judge sided with the state of Washington and placed a temporary restraining order preventing their enforcement. The Trump administration filed an emergency motion to allow the bans to be enforced while it prepared an appeal; the court refused to grant Trump an immediate administrative stay, but has yet to issue a final ruling on the motion, having just received Washington's counter-argument this morning.

While the companies signing on to the amicus brief leaned heavily into the tech space, there were some outliers, including yogurt maker Chobani and jeans company Levi Strauss. Gaming-related firms also included Zynga, Scopely, Autodesk, Github, Indiegogo, Patreon, and Kickstarter. A number of other publishers and developers--including Blizzard, Insomniac, and Harmonix, were not on the brief but have already made their feelings on the ban clear.

"Businesses and employees have little incentive to go through the laborious process of sponsoring or obtaining a visa, and relocating to the United States, if an employee may be unexpectedly halted at the border," the amicus brief states. "Skilled individuals will not wish to immigrate to the country if they may be cut off without warning from their spouses, grandparents, relatives, and friends- they will not pull up roots, incur significant economic risk, and subject their family to considerable uncertainty to immigrate to the United States in the face of this instability."

It adds, "Highly skilled immigrants will be more interested in working abroad, in places where they and their colleagues can travel freely and with assurance that their immigration status will not suddenly be revoked. Multinational companies will have strong incentives, including from their own employees, to base operations outside the United States or to move or hire employees and make investments abroad. Foreign companies will have significantly less incentive to establish operations in the United States and hire American citizens, because the Order will preclude the ability of those companies to employ their world-class talent within their U.S. subsidiaries. Ultimately, American workers and the economy will suffer as a result."

UPDATE: Outsourcing specialist Streamline Studios is the latest to join the ranks of those speaking out against the executive order. The team put together a video expressing their thoughts on the matter, calling for unity in the games industry. Meanwhile a spokesperson offered GamesIndustry.biz the following statement:

"As an American company based in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country we are appalled by this executive order. Streamline employs over 200 people from 28 different nationalities have offices in the U.S., Malaysia, Japan and Germany. Trump's immigration ban is an act of injustice that directly affects our company as well as countless others in the industry. We stand against the order with the rest of the industry and do not intend to stay silent about it."

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