Automakers remain silent as they walk a tightrope with Trump
By Craig Trudell, Jeff Green and David Welch, Bloomberg News
Majed Moughni has lived the American dream: He climbed the ladder from impoverished refugee to hotel dishwasher to valet for Ford royalty. Today he’s a lawyer, sitting at a chair and desk in an office that all once belonged to a Ford chief executive officer whose Lincoln Continental he used to park.
Moughni sees the business case for Ford’s senior executives to aggressively court Donald Trump after the president spent months criticizing automakers for making cars in Mexico. Their silence so far on Trump’s order halting immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries is another matter, and he can’t hide his disappointment.
“I’m a product of what Trump is trying to ban,” Moughni said. “It’s careless. This is a country of immigrants.”
Automakers are walking a tightrope as they court Trump, whose policies on clean-air standards, corporate taxes and trade will affect their fortunes. They have to balance that against other considerations closer to home: The traditional three U.S. automakers are based in Michigan, which backed Trump’s surprise victory but also has a substantial Middle Eastern population troubled by his executive order on immigration.
Ford’s hometown of Dearborn has been referred to as America’s Muslim Capital, with more than 30 percent of the population of Arab descent. From 2005 to 2015, the state accepted 19,545 refugees from Iraq and Syria — two of the seven countries affected by Trump’s ban.
“People would say that if you landed here at 9 p.m., you can have a job at 9 the next morning,” Ibrahim Kazerooni, the imam
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