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Starbucks takes on Donald Trump

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Starbucks pledged yesterday to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years as a direct response to President Trump’s polarizing order to suspend admittance of foreigners seeking asylum in the United States.

The first phase will be a focused effort within the U.S. to hire immigrants who have served American armed forces as interpreters or in other support capacities, according to CEO Howard Schultz.

The chain also promised to continue providing financial assistance to employees participating in the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Those immigrants have protection against deportation regardless of their families’ legal status, a privilege for which they pay a fee. Starbucks has been reimbursing employees for the charge and will continue to do so, Schultz vowed.

In a letter sent to all Starbucks employees, Schultz also said the chain is working with employees who have already been affected by Trump’s changes in U.S. immigration procedures. “We are doing everything possible to support and help them to navigate through this confusing period,” Schultz wrote.

He did not reveal how many “partners” had been affected, nor what impact they felt. But he did not hold back in blasting the effects of Trump’s executive order, which the coffee chain executive termed an immigration ban.

“We will neither stand by, nor stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new Administration’s actions grows with each passing day,” Schultz pledged.

He revealed that the brand intends to invest in new technology to facilitate chainwide communication.

“I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack, and want to use a faster, more immediate form of communication to engage with you on matters that concern us all as partners,” Schultz wrote.

Schultz's communication brought an outcry from some social media users, who posted on Twitter that Starbucks should be hiring military veterans, not other nations' political refugees. Some tweets also blasted the chain's CEO for pushing his own political beliefs on the system and its customers, and said they were mustering a boycott of the brand.

It was not clear how Starbucks’ hiring efforts would immediately help refugees who are turned away by the United States. Schultz’s communication said the refugees would be hired in any of the 75 nations where Starbucks currently has a presence.

Schultz, a onetime resident of a New York City housing project, campaigned openly for Trump’s Democratic opponent in the general election, Hillary Clinton. Had Clinton won, Schultz might have been the labor secretary in her cabinet, according to documents that came to light several weeks ago.

He has been cited as a possible Democratic presidential candidate for 2020.

President Trump ignited a firestorm Friday by issuing an executive order that changed longstanding immigration procedures. The measure suspended U.S. acceptance of all refugees for at least 120 days, and admittance of refugees from war-torn Syria for an indefinite period.

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