Amid criticism, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from his position on President Donald Trump's business advisory council, a move that he attributed to Trump's controversial immigration and travel restrictions.
"Earlier today I spoke briefly with the president about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community," Kalanick said in a memo to employees, according to CNN. "I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that."
Trump's executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and temporarily halting the U.S. refugee program infuriated many tech company leaders who stood in solidarity with those protesting the new law. However, during the protests, Uber suspended their surge pricing, which many people saw as an attempt to break up a taxi workers' strike. Though the company apologized and said that was not their intention, #DeleteUber remained one of the top trending hashtags at the time.
"There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that," Kalanick said in the memo. "The executive order is hurting many people in communities all across America. Families are being separated, people are stranded overseas and there's a growing fear the U.S. is no longer a place that welcomes immigrants."
Kalanick had previously defended his decision to advise Trump on the panel of 19 business leaders, despite receiving widespread criticism for it.
"We'll partner with anyone in the world as long they're about making transportation in cities better, creating job opportunities, making it easier to get around, getting pollution out of the air and traffic off the streets," the rideshare company's CEO told his company in January, according to Business Insider. "And so that's what this is about. It's about the leaders we have to work with around the world, not just here in the United States but everywhere. And being optimistic — asking can we make urban mobility better? But does [the board/protests] make great headlines? Of course."