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Starbucks Says It Will Hire 10,000 Refugees Worldwide In Next 5 Years

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz says the company plans to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years, in response to President Trump's executive order on immigration. Schultz says it "effectively [bans] people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, including refugees fleeing wars."
Richard Drew
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz says the company plans to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years, in response to President Trump's executive order on immigration. Schultz says it "effectively [bans] people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, including refugees fleeing wars."

Leaders of several American companies have announced plans to hire, house or otherwise support people affected by President Trump's sweeping freeze on people seeking asylum in the U.S. or traveling from seven largely Muslim countries.

NPR's Carrie Johnson breaks down the president's executive order on immigration here.

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz says his company plans to hire 10,000 refugees in the next five years in the 75 countries where it does business.

In a letter to current employees on Sunday, Schultz said the company would "start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support."

Starbucks has about 238,000 employees worldwide, 157,000 of whom work in the U.S., according to a 2015 regulatory filing.

Schultz also directly addressed the potential effects that "proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes" might have on the company's business in Mexico, where it says it has nearly 600 stores:

"We stand ready to help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families as they navigate what impact proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes might have on their business and their trust of Americans. But we will continue to invest in this critically important market all the same."

He also reiterated the company's past assurance to employees who purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act that they "will always have access to health insurance through Starbucks," even if the law is repealed, as congressional Republicans and President Trump have vowed to do.

The CEO of the global home-rental company Airbnb, Brian Chesky, wrote on Facebook that the company is "providing free housing to refugees and anyone else who needs it in the event they are denied the ability to board a US-bound flight and are not in your city/country of residence."

"We have 3M homes, so we can definitely find people a place to stay," he wrote, referring to the private residences users list for rental through Airbnb.

On its website, Airbnb invited people to volunteer their homes for free to people affected by the immigration freeze. "If free housing is not available in certain markets, Airbnb will subsidize the cost of necessary listings," a spokesperson wrote in an email to NPR, pointing out that the new policy is part of an ongoing company program that connects relief workers at refugee camps in Europe with people volunteering free housing.

The ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft also reacted to the order by announcing changes to company policies.

Lyft announced it would donate $1 million over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union "to defend our constitution."

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the company was working on a plan to pay drivers "who use Uber and come from the listed countries, many of whom take long breaks to go back home to see their extended family. These drivers currently outside of the U.S. will not be able to get back into the country for 90 days."

Kalanick is one of 19 business leaders who have accepted positions on Trump's economic advisory team, as Business Insider reported.

On Sunday, Uber's operation in New York City pointed to Kalanick's announcement as evidence that the company was not on board with the immigration freeze, after its drivers seemingly undercut a protest of the policy by New York City taxi drivers.

As The Atlantic reported:

"On Saturday, as demonstrators gathered at John F. Kennedy International Airport to protest President Trump's immigration ban, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) released a statement condemning the administration's controversial executive order.


"Later, the NYTWA directed its 'largely Muslim,' 19,000 members to participate in a one-hour strike at JFK in solidarity with the protesters. With thousands demonstrating boisterously outside the airport, the taxi lines normally packed with passengers inside the terminal were cordoned off entirely. And while none of the new arrivals at JFK had any luck hailing a yellow cab, the effects of the work stoppage were minimized in part by Uber, the ride-hailing app, which continued to operate at the airport throughout the strike.


"Later, after the NYTWA's work stoppage ended, Uber tweeted that it had turned off surge-pricing at JFK, effectively undercutting taxi drivers as they returned to work after protesting."

Over the weekend, the CEOs of Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple all issued statements condemning the freeze and "complaining that the order was pushed through so quickly it left great uncertainty about the status of some of their best employees," as NPR's Jim Zarroli reported.

"Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we would do," Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a message to his employees. "I've heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support."

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Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.