Yelp has joined nearly a hundred other companies nationwide, from throughout the tech industry and beyond, to file an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s recent Executive Order on immigration. As has been widely reported, among other changes, this Executive Order seeks to block nationals from certain Middle Eastern and African countries from entering the United States for at least 90 days. The Order also permits that time period to be extended and the list of countries to be expanded in the future (without explaining the criteria for such decisions), and drastically limits the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States.
Enforcement of the Executive Order would impact Yelp’s own employees’ ability to travel freely and work. Even employees who would not be directly affected by the Executive Order would indirectly suffer–they may fear that their own immigration status could be voided in the future, or be unsure if their colleagues and teammates could be uprooted or denied the freedom to travel. Moreover, the Executive Order is a broadside against lawful immigration, which is fundamental to our country, our economy, and Yelp.
At Yelp, our purpose has always been to connect people with great local businesses, and many of those great local businesses employ, and are owned by, immigrants. As our brief points out, immigrants make up about 28% of the owners of retail shopping, accommodation, restaurant, and local service businesses in the United States. The numbers are striking across diverse local businesses: 61% of gas station owners are immigrants, as are 53% of grocery store owners and 38% of restaurant owners. There is a good chance that a great new business in your neighborhood is run by immigrants. In 2011 immigrants opened 28% of new American businesses. Immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa are especially well represented among business owners, as they are much more likely to start businesses than the general population.
The Executive Order has already greatly disrupted many local businesses and the consumers that rely on them, and the Order’s lack of clarity creates an uncertain future for many more people if it is allowed to stand.
Yelp is not alone in its concerns–immigrants are critical to the success of our country, which has, since its founding, been a nation of immigrants and their descendants. This is why so many companies from across a wide spectrum, regardless of competitive relationships or differences in services, have rallied together to reiterate to the Court the importance of immigrants to the economic growth of our country. We cannot ignore the critical role that immigrants play in building our local communities through businesses that are essential to the consumers and employees that rely on them.