Top Microsoft execs weigh in on Trump’s immigration ban

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Slowly but surely, the tech world is reacting to a sweeping executive order signed by Trump on Friday that closes the United States’ borders to refugees and citizens from a number of countries. Some have shared personal stories or reflected on the ways in which such policy will negatively impact the Silicon Valley, where so much of the work force has immigrated from around the world.

Google’s Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have expressed various levels of concern about the action, with the former recalling employees in an attempt to get them back into the US before the ban restricts their re-entry. Microsoft was on the list of companies that offered an official statement on the matter, telling TechCrunch earlier today,

We share the concerns about the impact of the executive order on our employees from the listed countries, all of whom have been in the United States lawfully, and we’re actively working with them to provide legal advice and assistance.

Now two of the company’s top executives have weighed in on the matter. CEO Satya Nadella took to LinkedIn to share a memo sent by President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith to the entire Microsoft staff.

“As an immigrant and as a CEO,” Nadella explained in his post, “I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic.”

Smith’s memo offers even more detail, addressing the letter specifically to employees and their family who are citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan, the seven countries named in the order. According to Smith, the action potentially applies to at least 76 known Microsoft employees, who are from one of the seven countries, all of whom have been contacted by the company.

Smith praises Nadella’s past discussion of the importance of immigration, adding,

As a company, Microsoft believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system. We also believe in broader immigration opportunities, like the protections for talented and law-abiding young people under the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, often called “Dreamers”. We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion. And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings.

Smith also adds, “We believe that these types of immigration policies are good for people, good for business, and good for innovation.”

From: Brad Smith (CELA)

Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2017 12:05 PM

To: Microsoft – All Employees

Subject: Yesterday’s U.S. Executive Order on Immigration

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to reach out regarding the Executive Order signed yesterday in the United States relating to immigration. As you may have read in the press, this Order applies an immediate 90-day moratorium on admissions and reentry into the United States of all individuals who are not already U.S. citizens from seven countries – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.

Our first priority whenever there is a change in immigration laws anywhere in the world is to address immediately the needs of our employees and their families. So most importantly, if you or a family member are a citizen of one of these seven countries and you’re not yet a U.S. citizen, I have some specific information for you.

Our goal as a company is to provide you with legal advice and assistance. We’re aware of 76 Microsoft employees who are citizens of these countries and have a U.S. visa and are therefore affected by this new Order. We’ve already contacted everyone in this group. But there may be other employees from these countries who have U.S. green cards rather than a visa who may be affected, and there may be family members from these countries that we haven’t yet reached.  So if this impacts you or a family member and we haven’t yet been in contact with you, please send an email right away to the CELA U.S. Immigration Team. And of course, if you’re uncertain about whether you’re affected, use this same alias and let us know so we can work with you and answer your questions.

As we have in other instances and in other countries, we’re committed as a company to working with all of our employees and their families. We’ll make sure that we do everything we can to provide fast and effective legal advice and assistance.

More broadly, we appreciate that immigration issues are important to a great many people across Microsoft at a principled and even personal level, regardless of whether they personally are immigrants. Satya has spoken of this importance on many occasions, not just to Microsoft but to himself personally. He has done so publicly as well as in the private meetings that he and I have attended with government leaders.

As a company, Microsoft believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system. We also believe in broader immigration opportunities, like the protections for talented and law-abiding young people under the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, often called “Dreamers”. We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion. And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings.

We believe that these types of immigration policies are good for people, good for business, and good for innovation. That’s why we’ve long worked to stand up for and raise these issues with people in governments. We will continue to do that.

There’s a monthly Employee Q&A scheduled for Monday. Both Satya and I look forward to addressing these topics further at that time. And we’ll continue to monitor all of these issues and work closely with employees and families that are affected.

Thanks.

Brad

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