Microsoft President Brad Smith reassures staff over new Trump immigration policies

Many major technology companies in the United States have reacted with concern over the executive order signed by President Donald Trump, implementing immediate restrictions on admission to the US for several groups of people. In addition to a complete ban on refugees entering the US for 120 days, the new border controls:

  • ban all travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - from entering the US for 90 days;
  • prevent those with dual-citizenship shared with any of those countries (except those with dual US citizenship) from entering the US for 90 days;
  • restrict existing US green card holders from re-entering the country without first having their admission reviewed on a "case by case basis"; and
  • require green card holders already in the US to speak with a consular official before leaving the country.

Today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the company's President and Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, sent an all-hands email to its staff, offering them some reassurance as uncertainties surrounding the new immigration policies continue to mount.

"As an immigrant and as a CEO," Nadella said, "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."

In his email, Smith said that the company's top priority "is to address immediately the needs of our employees and their families", and said that it would provide them "with legal advice and assistance". He added that Microsoft is aware of 76 employees directly affected by President Trump's executive order, but encouraged any other staff concerned about the possible impact of the new restrictions to reach out for assistance from the firm.

Notably, Smith emphasized that Microsoft "believes in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system", and said that "immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people's freedom of expression or religion." He added that immigration policies that respect such freedoms, and which provide opportunities to those beyond America's borders, "are good for people, good for business, and good for innovation."

The full text of Brad Smith's email follows:

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

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his personal 'concern about the impact' of the new border controls, while Box CEO Aaron Levie said that "on every level -moral, humanitarian, economic, logical, etc.- this ban is wrong and is completely antithetical to the principles of America."

Source: Satya Nadella (LinkedIn)

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