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Why some big tech giants didn't join a brief fighting Trump's immigration ban

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Nearly 100 tech companies filed an amicus brief on Sunday opposing President Donald Trump’s refugee and immigrant travel ban, including Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), eBay (EBAY), Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Twitter (TWTR). However, take a closer look at the long-running list of names on the joint brief, and you’ll notice several notable companies missing.

Amazon (AMZN) was one major company that didn’t join with the brief, which supported a case brought by Minnesota and the state of Washington opposing the temporary ban on refugees and temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

That’s because Seattle-based Amazon had already filed a declaration in the same case explaining how the ban negatively affects the e-commerce giant. Washington’s attorney general advised Amazon not to join the amicus brief since it’s a witness in the original lawsuit, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz

Also missing from the list of 97 tech companies on the amicus brief? Oracle (ORCL) and IBM. While it’s a stretch to assume the businesses support Trump’s travel ban, it’s worth noting the companies have ties to the current administration. Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz, for example, belongs to Trump’s transition team — a controversial move that caused some dissent among the ranks at Oracle, including the resignation of an executive this December in protest.

For her part, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty belongs to Trump’s business advisory group and met with the president just last week. When asked why IBM didn’t participate in the amicus brief, a company spokesman issued the following response: “IBM’s CEO conveyed the company’s views directly to the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security in person on Friday, including suggestions for how technology can help to promote both national security and lawful immigration.”

Another tech giant that didn’t join the amicus briefing, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), told Yahoo Finance it planned on filing a statement of support later Monday and chalked up its omission from the initial roster to a tight timeframe for participation. The company, however, did issue a statement last week in response to Trump’s executive order stating it does not support measures that “discriminate against any group.” 

UPDATE: In a previous version of this story, Yahoo Finance wrote Tesla (TSLA) had not joined the amicus brief. Indeed, Tesla was not one of the original 97 companies to participate — the company joined the brief Monday afternoon. This post has been updated to reflect that.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent covering the intersection of business and technology.

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