On Saturday, in response to the President's executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance joined thousands of protesters in solidarity at John F. Kennedy airport by refusing to pick up passengers. When the Alliance called on Uber and Lyft to join in the rally, the former chose a different route. Instead, Uber suspended surge pricing, which users saw as a dismissal of the protest and a money grab. It didn't take long before #DeleteUber caught on.
Celebrities like Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae supported the boycott, which prompted the company to issue a statement:
This order has far broader implications as it also affects thousands of drivers who use Uber and come from the listed countries, many of whom take long breaks to go back home to see their extended family. These drivers currently outside of the U.S. will not be able to get back into the country for 90 days. That means they will not be able to earn a living and support their families—and of course they will be separated from their loved ones during that time.
We are working out a process to identify these drivers and compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table. We will have more details on this in the coming days.
While every government has their own immigration controls, allowing people from all around the world to come here and make America their home has largely been the U.S.’s policy since its founding. That means this ban will impact many innocent people—an issue that I will raise this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump’s first business advisory group meeting.
Despite their best attempts at damage control, the statement came too late. Users were already deactivating their accounts on their phones, calling out Uber for trying to profit from protesters. After the backlash, Uber's competitor Lyft saw a spike in their users and said they "would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years," according to USA Today. Now, that's a company with values we can ride with.