Google co-founder Sergey Brin at SFO protest: ‘I am a refugee’

A co-founder of one of America’s most dramatic business successes joined the Jan. 28 protest at San Francisco International Airport against President Donald Trump’s inflammatory refugee and travel ban, telling a reporter he was there because of how he came to the U.S.

Sergey Brin and his family fled Russia in 1979 because of persecution against Jews.

Trump on Jan. 27 shut America’s borders to all refugees for four months, and to Syrians fleeing war and persecution indefinitely. Citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries were prohibited from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

That move drove Brin to SFO, where he stood with some 700 protesters opposing the ban, various media outlets reported. “I’m here because I’m a refugee,” Brin told Forbes reporter Ryan Mac, according to a tweet from Mac on the day of the protest.

Brin reportedly declined to comment to other reporters or elaborate. His family fled Russia when he was a young boy.

Though it appears Brin attended the protest out of his personal beliefs, the company he helped found has launched a multi-front attack on Trump’s executive order banning refugees.

What may represent a new and wide-reaching assault appeared on the Google home page Jan. 30. The day’s “Google Doodle” sketch honored Fred Korematsu, an Oakland lawyer and civil rights activist who fought internship of Japanese people in the U.S. during WWII.

Possibly the Korematsu “doodle” was planned and scheduled before the President dropped his order, but considering Google’s other moves, that might be a stretch.

“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo to employees, according to NPR. “We’re upset about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US.”

Pichai told workers the order could block almost 200 Google employees from the U.S. and he ordered staff traveling abroad to come home right away.

And in response to the refugee block and seven-country ban, Google has created a $2 million “crisis fund” that can be matched with an equal amount from employee donations, to raise an intended $4 million, USA Today reported, calling the action “Google’s largest crisis campaign ever.”

(That, too, may be a stretch: Google has reported that it raised more than $1o million for humanitarian groups helping refugees in Europe’s migrant crisis, after saying it would match donations up to about $5.5 million.)

 

 

Photo: Google’s Sergey Brin answers questions on the red carpet at the 2014 Breakthrough Prize event at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. (John Green)

 

 

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