Microsoft pursued to reassure and offer legal support Saturday to employees affected by US President Donald Trump’s executive order for the time being blocking citizens of 7 predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
President Donald Trump‘s order, signed Friday, put off the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely. It also stopped, for 90 days, entry into the U.S. for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
In an email to employees on Saturday afternoon, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith stated the company was aware of 76 employees who are citizens of those countries and hold a U.S. temporary work visa.
“As we have in other cases and in other countries, we’re committed as a company to working with all of our employees and their families,” Smith stated. “We’ll make sure that we do everything we can to offer fast and effective legal advice and support.”
He stated the Microsoft Company had reached out to all those employees but added there may be others with permanent-resident status, or green cards holders, who could be banned from re-entering the U.S. under the new policy.
The software gigantic’s U.S. workforce is heavily dependent on colonizers and guest workers. Microsoft employed 120,000 people at the end of 2016, together with about 71,000 in the U.S. Of those, 45,400 worked in Washington State, primarily in Redmond and Bellevue.
In a quarterly filing this week, Microsoft stated changes to U.S. immigration policy that restrict the flow of people “may constrain our ability to adequately staff our research and development efforts.” That language didn’t appear in the company’s prior filings.
Microsoft, Smith stated, believes in a “strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system,” and supports efforts to ease barriers to immigration, including the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which defers deportation for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
That policy faces an undefined future under Trump, who has called for mass exiles and for reform of the guest-worker programs that Microsoft and other software companies rely on.
“We believe that immigration laws can and should protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion,” Smith stated.
Trump is expected to soon take action on visa programs for foreign workers.
A draft of a suggested executive order on the matter was oozed this week. While it is not clear how the final order will look and the draft contains some changes many in the technology industry support, some language alarmed people in the industry.
The draft anticipated a regulation to “restore the honesty of employment-based nonimmigrant worker programs” and to consider options for modifying the H-1B skilled guest worker program to “safeguard that beneficiaries of the program are the best and the brightest.”
Peter Lee, a Microsoft executive who oversees one of the company’s research units in Redmond, weighed in on Twitter Saturday on the impact of the ban on the immigration-dependent technology industry.
When Lee ran the computer-science department at Carnegie Mellon University, he said, “We had more high-quality PhD graduate applicants and admissions from Iran than from France.”
Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella, a U.S. citizen who was born in India, also defended immigration.
“As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both proficient and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world,” Nadella wrote in a post on LinkedIn. “We will continue to advocate on this important topic.”