Some Louisville employers said President Donald J. Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar immigrants and nonimmigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States has elicited pain, fear and confusion among stakeholders.
Leaders of one of the area’s largest employers, Ford Motor Co., who have sparred with the Trump administration about creating jobs outside of the U.S., said they oppose the president’s order. And Louisville’s largest employer, UPS, reiterated to IL that it values diversity and inclusion but was still evaluating the order’s implication.
The order has caused delays at airports, prevented some immigrants, including permanent residents, from re-entering the U.S. and prompted protests across the country, including in Louisville.
Michael Davis, co-founder and CEO of Louisville-based technology company Appriss, told IL that the company would not exist without the innovation and dedication of Yung Nguyen, who co-founded the company after immigrating to Louisville from Vietnam.
“Our company exists because of an immigrant who had spent years in a refugee camp,” Davis said.
In many cities across the country — not just on the coasts — immigrants are contributing to making America the best it can be, he said.
Nguyen and others come to the U.S. often because they cannot use their talents in their home countries, which means that Trump’s ban likely will prevent the best and the brightest immigrants from arriving here, Davis said.
On LinkedIn, the CEO wrote about how immigrants, including Nguyen, have influenced him.
“It’s as simple as this, without this immigrant story there is no Appriss, a company which has provided many thousands of families their jobs and livelihood over the past 23 years,” he wrote. “A company which has paid many tens of millions of dollars of US taxes, and contributed in so many other ways to making this country a better place to live.
“Where would we be if Yung Nguyen had been turned away at the airport simply because he was coming from the wrong country?” Davis asked.
The CEO said Yung, who left Appriss in 2001 and started another business, voting services company IVS, “is a true pillar of the Louisville KY community.”
Davis told IL that Trump’s executive order struck a chord with him because of the company’s history, because it conflicts with the company’s core values and because the majority of its employees are “quite upset.”
“We did it to state our values and send a message to our employees that we don’t think that this is what America is about,” he said.
Appriss, whose services include informing victims of violent crimes and other concerned citizens when offenders have been released from prison, employs about 620 globally, including about 420 in Louisville.
Leaders of the University of Louisville, which has about 100 students and faculty from the seven countries included in Trump’s travel ban, said the president’s order “has caused a great deal of pain and fear among of our students, faculty staff and other members of the UofL family.”
Interim President Greg Postel and Interim Provost Dale Billingsley said in an emailed statement: “While we do not have answers to all the questions raised by the executive order, the university is monitoring the situation and will offer support to those affected. As we work through this situation, we advise all our students, faculty and staff not to travel to the seven countries under the ban.”
The university said that students with questions should call the Officer of International Student and Scholar Services at 502-852-6604, while faculty and staff can contact HR at 502-852-6258.
Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Mark Fields said in an emailed statement that respect for all people is a core value of Ford.
“We are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world. That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company,” Ford and Fields said.
Ford said it is not aware of any employees directly affected by the travel ban, but will “continue working to ensure the well-being of our employees by promoting the values of respect and inclusion in the workplace.”
Ford employs about 13,000 at two Louisville area manufacturing plants.
A spokesman for KentuckyOne Health, which includes University and Jewish hospitals and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, told IL that the system was still evaluating the travel ban’s impact.
Insurance giant Humana, which employs about 12,000 in Louisville, and fast-food company Yum Brands could not be reached.