Much of the controversy began on Saturday night, after the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called for a work stoppage at New York City’s JFK International Airport as a way to show solidarity with the protests against Trump’s executive order that blocks travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
Though the Alliance called for similar support from Lyft and Uber drivers, the latter sent a tweet out following the strike time period announcing that their surge pricing system had been suspended temporarily. The move lead to near immediate backlash, with many questioning the company’s intentions.
Other celebrities followed suit.
Wrote Billy Eichner, “We must be mindful of where we spend our $ & the people we’re making rich. I’ve used @UBER constantly & loved it. Using @Lyft as of today.”
A spokesperson for the company told Fortune that the move was made to ensure that it didn’t seem like Uber was trying to profit off of the increased demand for transportation during the strike.
Later on Saturday evening, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick – who is a member of Trump’s economic advisory group – shared a letter to the company’s employees addressing the ban.
He said that the company was working to identify any drivers affected by the ban, and said they would be compensated “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.”
“Ever since Uber’s founding we’ve had to work with governments and politicians of all political persuasions across hundreds of cities and dozens of countries,” Kalanick wrote of joining the advisory group. “Though we share common ground with many of them, we have had areas of disagreement with each of them. In some cases we’ve had to stand and fight to make progress, other times we’ve been able to effect change from within through persuasion and argument.”
Kalanick further outlined plans to create a “$3 million legal defense fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services” in a Facebook post.
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“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,” Lyft’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer wrote in a blog post. “We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”
They continued, “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.”
In total, the American Civil Liberties Union received $24.1 million in donations over the weekend first following the ban’s announcement, according to Time. The donation total is over six times as much as the rights group typically raises in a year.