Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, has warned that Microsoft may move jobs outside of the United States due to decisions being made by the government, but insisted that the firm doesn’t want to take this action, but that it’s being left with no option. Microsoft relies on skilled foreign workers, so the current administration’s plans are making it difficult for the firm to hire the talent that it needs.
Smith had already criticised efforts by the government to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but also criticised Trump’s plans to repeal a law that allows some spouses of people who have a non-immigrant H-1B visa to take paid work, and another that allows international graduates in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. universities to continue working in the country while they apply for a work visa.
In an interview, Smith said:
“We don't want to move jobs out of the United States and we hope that we don't see decision making in Washington that would force us to do that. We're not going to cut people loose. We're going to stand behind them. In the world of technology you better stand behind your people because your people are your most valuable asset.”
Further, he went on to say that Microsoft’s development centre in Vancouver could act as a “bit of a safety valve”, so even if workers are forced to move from the U.S., they won’t lose their jobs because they'll be able to go up to Canada.
While being fully behind those who have immigrated to the U.S., he said tech companies have to understand and act to help those people in “broadband deserts” around the U.S. who feel like they’ve been left behind with not many work opportunities. He said these people need to be given opportunities to develop their digital skills to get better jobs, and that more investments need to be made to bring high-speed internet to more people. Smith said that Microsoft needs to, and is trying to, meet the needs of those people being left behind.