Amazon Working With Lawmakers to Counter Trump's Immigration Order -- 2nd Update

Features Dow Jones Newswires

Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said the e-commerce giant is working with lawmakers and state officials to explore legal options to counter President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

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In an email to staff Monday, Mr. Bezos said the company has reached out to members of Congress to explore legislative options. The company's public policy team in Washington, D.C., also has reached out to senior administration officials to make clear its opposition, Mr. Bezos wrote.

In one of the strongest signs of corporate disapproval of the order, Mr. Bezos said Amazon has prepared a declaration of support for a suit filed Monday against the order by the Washington state Attorney General. "We are working on other legal options, as well," he added.

"To our employees in the U.S. and around the world who may be directly affected by this order, I want you to know that the full extent of Amazon's resources are behind you," Mr. Bezos added.

Leaders from across the technology industry have criticized Mr. Trump's temporary immigration ban on foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, expressing concern about the order's effect on their employees, with some executives saying the ban violated their personal and company principles.

The White House has defended the new rules. "A majority of Americans agree with the president," spokesman Sean Spicer said during his daily briefing Monday. "They recognize that the steps that he's taken were to keep this country safe and to make sure that we didn't look back and say, 'I wish we had done the following.' "

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Mr. Trump tweeted Monday that Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said that "all is going well with very few problems. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN." He added: "There is nothing nice about searching for terrorists before they can enter our country. This was a big part of my campaign. Study the world!"

The Washington state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, argued in his lawsuit that the executive order is unconstitutional and illegal. In addition, he sought a temporary restraining order to stop the order's implementation.

Mr. Ferguson was one of 16 state attorneys general who over the weekend said that the order is "unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful" in a statement.

Mr. Bezos' email came after many tech leaders condemned the executive order over the weekend. "This executive order is one we do not support," Mr. Bezos wrote Monday.

On Saturday, Amazon's vice president of human resources, Beth Galetti, sent an initial message to staff, saying that Amazon is committed to "equal rights, tolerance and diversity." But she stopped short of condemning the executive order.

Like other tech companies, Amazon recommended that U.S.-based employees from countries listed in the restriction refrain from traveling outside the U.S. For those employees currently outside the U.S. and traveling abroad, Ms. Galetti said that the company was working on contingency plans.

In Amazon's supporting document to the Washington attorney general's suit, the company said that it is aware of 49 employees potentially affected by the order, who lawfully work in the U.S. on visas, as well as 10 dependents. Additionally, the company has offered employment to seven candidates who were born in Iran but currently live elsewhere. It is now looking to potentially place them outside of the U.S.

Amazon said one Libyan-born employee, who has British citizenship and resides in the U.K., had planned to travel to the U.S. next month for business. "We have instructed the employee to cancel her plans and remain in the U.K. rather than risk being denied entry to the United States," Amazon added in the filing.

Mr. Bezos and President Trump -- who clashed during the presidential campaign -- struck a delicate entente in the last two months. Two weeks ago, Amazon pledged to create 100,000 jobs in the U.S., the largest jobs creation announcement since the election. The then-president-elect appeared to take credit for the move, though many of the jobs were at already announced or planned warehouses.

In December, Mr. Bezos was part of a group of tech leaders that met with Mr. Trump to discuss industry issues. At the meeting, Mr. Trump urged leaders, including Mr. Bezos, to keep jobs and production inside the U.S.

Before Mr. Trump's election, however, the two men exchanged barbs several times. Mr. Trump accused Amazon's CEO of buying the Washington Post to influence politics. "If I become president, oh do they have problems," Mr. Trump said in a speech early last year. Weeks before the election, Mr. Bezos said at a conference that the candidate's behavior "erodes democracy around the edges."

After Mr. Trump criticized Amazon and Mr. Bezos on Twitter in December 2015, the Amazon CEO, who also runs closely held rocket-making company Blue Origin LLC, said he would reserve a seat on one of his rockets for Mr. Trump. "#sendDonaldtospace," a message from Mr. Bezos' Twitter account read.

Write to Laura Stevens at laura.stevens@wsj.com