General Electric (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt, who is overseeing the merger of the oil and gas group with Baker Hughes Inc., is attempting to calm his global workforce following President Trump's immigration order that temporarily bans migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and bars entry by refugees into the United States.
Immelt is to become the chairman of a revamped Baker Hughes once GE becomes majority shareholder in the $32 billion merger, which is set for completion by mid-year. On Sunday the GE chief posted his "thoughts" on an employee blog about the executive order.
"We are in the process of evaluating how the executive order impacts our employees around the world, and we are reaching out directly to anyone we think may be impacted," Immelt said in his blog post. "This situation is very fluid and will evolve quickly in the coming days," he said, noting that a federal judge in Brooklyn, NY, blocked part of the executive order on Saturday.
The president’s order, enacted on Friday, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
"I understand many of you are very concerned about the potential impacts of this order, and I share your concern," he said. "Our priority at GE is our people and our customers. We have many employees from the named countries and we do business all over the region. These employees and customer are critical to our success, and they are our friends and partners.
"We stand with them and will work with the U.S. administration to strive to find the balance between the need for security, and the movement of law abiding people. We will continue to make our voice heard with the new administration and Congress, and reiterate the importance of his issue to GE and to the business community overall."
There would be no GE, Immelt said, "without our smart, dedicated employees from all over the world. There would be no GE without people of all religions, nationalities, gender, sexual orientation and race. We do meaningful work that solves tough challenges in the world. We are a very global team and we will stand together as the global political situation continues to evolve."
Immelt did not elaborate about how many employees may have been or could be affected. Boston-based GE at the end of 2015 employed close to 333,000 people around the world and had 295 manufacturing plants in 39 other countries outside the United States. It also has 206 manufacturing plants in 40 states in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.