A Message to Uber and Lyft, From a Driver

The anti-Trump world exploded in apoplexy this weekend as President Trump's executive order on immigration caused hysteria and outsized reactions. Protesters have taken over airports across the nation in response to an order temporarily barring immigration from seven jihadist hotspots until our vetting process can be improved.

As a "driver partner" who works for both Uber and Lyft, I received emails from both companies this weekend. I was struck by both, for different reasons.

Here's the email from Uber:

Dear Jeffery,

At Uber we've always believed in standing up for what's right. Today we need your help supporting drivers who may be impacted by President Trump's new immigration ban.

Drivers who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen and live in the US but have left the country, will not be able to return for 90 days. This means they won't be able to earn money and support their families during this period.

It's important that as a community we do everything we can to help these drivers. Here's what Uber will do:

•Provide 24/7 legal support for drivers who are trying to get back into the country. Our lawyers and immigration experts will be on call 24/7 to help.

•Compensate drivers for their lost earnings. This will help them support their families and put food on the table while they are banned from the US.

•Urge the government to reinstate the right of US residents to travel—whatever their country of origin—immediately.

•Create a $3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services.

If you are a driver or a friend or family member of someone who has been affected, please contact us here.

Uber is a community. We're here to support each other. Please help Uber to help drivers who may be affected by this unjust and wrong immigration ban.

Travis

Uber Founder & CEO

Here's the email from Lyft:

Defending Our Values

Hi Jeff,

We created Lyft to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive, and safe.

This weekend, Trump closed the country's borders to refugees, immigrants, and even documented residents from around the world based on their country of origin. Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft's and our nation's core values. We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.

We know this directly impacts many of our community members, their families, and friends. We stand with you, and are donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU to defend our constitution. We ask that you continue to be there for each other - and together, continue proving the power of community.

John & Logan

Lyft Co-Founders

I found it interesting that the providers of the software under which I operate as an independent contractor found it necessary to let me know what management's political views are. I couldn't recall asking them to do so, nor do I recall expressing interest in them.

Rather than fan the flames, I would prefer they simply continue to provide a reliable alternative to taxis. But since they decided I need to know about their politics, I'm responding to both.

Here's my letter to Travis, founder and CEO of Uber:

Dear Travis,

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding President Trump's temporary immigration ban from certain areas of the world that are beset with jihadist violence.

While I disagree with your political view that this is an "unjust and wrong immigration ban," I am appreciative of the steps you're taking to help partners who may be affected. It's a rare act these days to put your money where your mouth is. Providing extra resources for immigrants to navigate the legal system is commendable.

As you may have subsequently read, this is not an immigration ban on all Muslims, as it's been portrayed by some in the media. It is a temporary hold on immigration from some areas of the world that harbor people who want to commit acts of terror. I believe there's a balance between an outright ban of all Muslims (which this Executive Order does NOT do) and turning a blind eye to letting folks into the country who have the express mission of killing Americans.

Should members of our community be found to pass the new vetting protocols being formed by our Department of Homeland Security, they should be welcomed with open arms. Only the most xenophobic and hateful people are opposed to any immigration, and thankfully they comprise a tiny minority of our society.

At any rate, I am thankful for the opportunity to enhance my income with the software platform you provide. I hope that political disagreements will continue to be irrelevant to any individual's opportunity to seize such an opportunity with Uber.

Please continue to fight for the rollback of regulations on our free market economy. I appreciate your voice in President Trump's economic council.

Sincerely,

Jeff

Next, my open letter to John and Logan, co-founders of Lyft:

Dear John and Logan,

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding President Trump's temporary immigration ban from certain areas of the world that are beset with jihadist violence.

You wrote in your letter that "Trump closed the country's borders to refugees, immigrants, and even documented residents from around the world based on their country of origin."

I would like to remind you that Mr. Trump won a presidential election fairly under the rules set forth in the United States Constitution, and has earned the right to be addressed as President Trump. I assume this was an unintentional oversight.

I was confused by your statement that "[b]anning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft's and our nation's core values." I am unaware of President Trump having done such a thing. Could you please point me to the language in the Executive Order that does such a thing?

I must also confess that I was struck that your first action to prove the power of our community was to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union. Had I known when I signed up as a driver partner with Lyft that our community would be defined as supporting the ACLU, I might have reconsidered.

You stated that you are donating to the ACLU "to defend the Constitution." You may be unaware of the decades-long work by the ACLU to distort the constitution from its original meanings, creating out of whole cloth such notions as the separation of church and state. I know this is not a popular statement, and we are free to disagree with each other on this notion. Just so long as we all agree that political disagreements are not grounds for termination from the platform. After all, there are thousands of driver partners active on Lyft who disagree with you on this issue.

Might I suggest sticking to providing excellent software support and an effective alternative to the taxi industry? That seems to be your strong suit. Please endeavor to do more research on issues before you issue any statements or company manifestos regarding those issues. And please do remember to keep in mind that not every driver partner agrees with you, but we are all thankful for the opportunity to stick to driving and want to keep politics out of our commercial relationship.

Thanks,

Jeff