Starbucks vows to hire 10,000 refugees over next 5 years

WASHINGTON - Starbucks (SBUX) says it will hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years, a response to President Donald Trump’s indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees and temporary travel bans that apply to six other Muslim-majority nations.

Howard Schultz, the coffee retailer’s chairman and CEO, said in a letter to employees Sunday that the hiring would apply to stores worldwide and the effort would start in the United States where the focus would be on hiring immigrants “who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.”

“We have a long history of hiring young people looking for opportunities and a pathway to a new life around the world,” Schultz wrote. “This is why we are doubling down on this commitment by working with our equity market employees as well as joint venture and licensed market partners in a concerted effort to welcome and seek opportunities for those fleeing war, violence, persecution and discrimination.”

President Trump on Friday signed an executive order Friday blocking all travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries -- Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya -- for at least 90 days. 

Schultz, a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the presidential run, took aim at other parts of a Trump agenda focused on immigration, repealing former President Barack Obama’s health care law and restructuring trade with Mexico. 

The letter said that Starbucks would help support coffee growers in Mexico, provide health insurance to eligible workers if the health care law is repealed and back an Obama-era immigration program that allows young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit.

Schultz added that Starbucks would aim to communicate with workers more frequently, saying Sunday, “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.”

Other big U.S. companies are taking action in response to Mr. Trump’s immigration restriction. Google (GOOG) is creating a fund that could raise up to $4 million for four immigrant rights organizations. The money will go toward the American Civil Liberties Union, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the International Rescue Committee and the U.N. Refugee Agency.

Google and other Silicon Valley companies are also gearing up to challenge a reported plan by the Trump administration to change how work visas are issued for foreign employees. Technology companies employ many non-U.S. computer scientists, software programmers and other workers from abroad.