Microsoft is asking the Trump administration to create a process that would grant a case-by-case exemption to immigrants affected by President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said that the Redmond, Washington-based company had filed a formal request with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to use their authority in order to grant exceptions to visa holders and their dependents.
In a blog posted on the company’s website, Smith pointed out that the order imposed a heavy burden on legal U.S. residents who are no longer allowed to re-enter the country.
‘There currently are law-abiding visa holders who are parents that were outside the United States last Friday and therefore cannot re-enter the country. These parents are stranded and separated from their children. Other individuals are confronting genuine family emergencies such as the need to visit a critically ill parent.’
Smith went on to discuss that there were 76 Microsoft employees who had been affected by Trump’s order and that those were just a tiny portion of those affected by it across the country.
‘At Microsoft we have seen these needs first-hand through some of our 76 employees who are impacted by last week’s order and, together with their 41 dependents, have nonimmigrant visas to live in the United States. These needs almost certainly are not unique to our employees and their families. We believe that limited but important steps to help all such individuals can be taken by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, consistent with national security and the authority that the President expressly gave to them.’
Smith also indirectly pointed out one of the flaws within Trump’s order. The order applies to those who hold valid visas, but, those applying for a visa undergo a rigorous screening and application process. They have already, to use Trump’s words undergone “extreme vetting.” To summarily say they are no longer allowed to enter the country does nothing to make us any safer.
Beyond that, as Smith’s post details, many of these visa holders are highly-educated individuals whose work contributes greatly to the U.S. economy. Banning them is not only ethically wrong, but poor economic policy.
‘As we explain in our formal request, U.S. immigration authorities already have a wide range of personal information about individuals in the visa categories that we have proposed. This includes individuals’ occupation, place of residence, place of work, family members, state identification/driver’s license information, and the existence of any criminal history. In short, these individuals are “known quantities” in their communities: their character, personalities, conduct, and behavior is understood by their colleagues, employers, friends, and neighbors.
‘Many of these individuals also fill critical roles in the organizations that employ them, whether they are doctors, scientists, engineers, medical technicians, software developers, or any number of other highly skilled professionals. They are deeply valued contributors to the innovation, research and business acumen of our nation, and they serve critical roles in the successful operations of U.S. companies.’
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