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Federal government / Immigration

Kickstarter and Etsy continue the fight against Trump’s immigration order

Their recent declarations, attached to New York state's joint lawsuit, reveal the company's specific concerns regarding international business.

As we’ve previously reported, several Brooklyn tech companies have taken a public stand against President Donald Trump’s executive order that restricts entry to the U.S. from designated countries. Among the most outspoken have been Kickstarter, Etsy and Work & Co.

On March 6, Trump revised the original executive order, by removing Iraq from the list of restricted countries and limiting the order to the issuance of new visas. Those revisions, however, have not halted legal challenges from several states. This week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that the Empire State, along with California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oregon, has joined Washington state’s lawsuit against the Trump administration. The states filed an amended complaint addressing the revised executive order over the weekend.

Particularly intriguing are the declarations from some 20 New York businesses, organizations and government officials that are attached to the revised complaint.

And yes, Kickstarter and Etsy once again make an appearance.

In their declarations, the general counsels for both companies lay out their specific concerns regarding the order — in the process yielding information about the companies’ international outreach.

Kickstarter has a relatively small number (though perhaps a significant fraction) of international employees: 11 out of 130 in total. But as general counsel Michal Rosenn’s declaration states, the company fears that the executive order may have chilling effects on its recruitment efforts in Muslim-majority areas, even in countries not listed under the order. Furthermore, according to Rosenn, the order poses a threat to Kickstarter’s community-building efforts, such as the events it periodically throws for its project creators:

Kickstarter anticipates that the Executive Order will impede travel to such events by creators who are from the nations included in the Executive Order, those from majority-Muslim nations not included in the Executive order, and by Muslim creators from other nations. While Kickstarter does not track its users’ religious identity, Kickstarter is currently aware of at least 50 users located in either one of the six nations impacted by the Executive Order or a Muslim-majority nation and who have launched projects on the site.

Indeed, the question of whether the recent executive order creates an inhospitable environment for foreign creatives has become a hot-button issue of late. Recently, for instance, the South by Southwest festival drew criticism for language in its artist contracts suggesting that it might report foreign nationals that breached its conduct guidelines to immigration authorities.

Etsy’s declaration, filed by general counsel Jill Simeone, gives fewer specifics about how its particular business functions may be hampered, but it nonetheless speaks to the concern and fear the executive order has stoked among its employees. Some 175 staffers out of Etsy’s more than 1,000 employees work outside of the U.S. Simeone’s declaration includes a description of the immediate aftermath of the initial order inside the company:

In response to the initial Executive Order, on January 28, 2017, Etsy’s CEO, Chad Dickerson, reached out to all of Etsy’s employees and encouraged employees to ask for help and coordinate with Etsy’s legal and human resources team for any immigration concerns they might have. Multiple employees reached out in response, indicating their fears and anxieties about immigration polices, including concerns about their visa and concerns about their families and loved ones who live in the affected countries. We believe that the revised Executive Order does not alleviate, but in fact perpetuates, the stress related to these issues.

You can read the entire document, which also includes declarations from Manhattan-based companies Meetup and Casper, below.

Companies: Etsy / Kickstarter
Series: Brooklyn

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