Microsoft is urging U.S. President Donald Trump to grant exceptions to his executive order suspending immigration to the United Sates from Muslim countries.
In a letter to the secretaries of State and Homeland Security, the company asks for a case-by-case exception process to be implemented for law-abiding visa holders “with pressing needs.” The ban, enacted last Friday, means those born in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are prohibited from entering the United States for at least the next 90 days.
Microsoft said it has 76 employees who, along with their 41 dependents, are impacted by the executive order. All of them have non-immigrant visas to live and work in the United States.
“After contacting these employees and their families, we have learned that some of them have particularly pressing needs,” the letter reads. “For example, we are concerned about families that have been separated as one or both parents were outside the United States last Friday and, therefore, cannot re-enter the country and are stranded away from their homes. We are also concerned about an impacted employee inside the United States with a desperate need to visit a critically-ill parent abroad. These situations almost certainly are not unique to our employees and their families. Therefore, we request that you create an exception process to address these and other responsible applications for entry into the country.”
Microsoft chief legal officer Brad Smith, in a blog post, says 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.”
U.S. immigration authorities already have a plethora of information on those who fall into the visa category, Smith points out, meaning that the government did not consider them a threat, or the visas would not have been issued.
Microsoft is one of the first companies to publicly contact the government about the issue, although it is certainly not alone in its opposition on the immigration ban. Apple and Amazon have both threatened legal action, while Google is creating a $2 million crisis fund can be matched with up to $2 million in donations from employees, bringing it to a possible total of $4 million. Uber has also started a $3-million legal defense fund to aid any of its employees impacted by the ban and Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb and Tesla Motors have all publicly denounced Trump’s order.
Although Microsoft has proposed a compromise, that does not mean it supports the ban in any way, Smith says.
“This proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order,” he writes. “Our company is one among many that has expressed its views, and we will continue to participate energetically and constructively in the public discussions that help define our democratic processes.”