Microsoft to feds: Please exempt our immigrant workers hit by travel ban

Neither the Department of State nor the Department of Homeland Security immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment. Today Microsoft is filing a formal request asking these cabinet officers to create a process to grant exceptions that will permit “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs” to re-enter the country while protecting the nation’s security. Some employees have been separated from spouses, and at least one is confronted with the choice of visiting a dying parent overseas and perhaps not being allowed to return.”These are not people trying to avoid detection”, according to the letter by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal counsel.”There now are law-abiding visa holders who are parents that were outside the United States last Friday and therefore can not re-enter the country”, Smith wrote in a blog post on Microsoft’s website.Microsoft said that 76 employees and their 41 dependents who have nonimmigrant visas were impacted by the executive order. Another impacted employee, Smith wrote, is in the US but has “a desperate need to visit a critically-ill parent overseas”. Microsoft is taking things a step further, and in a lengthy plea the company lays out the need for formal exemptions of certain travelers, citing issues its own employees have had to deal with regarding the ban, and insisting that the current state of affairs simply isn’t acceptable. “We are concerned, however, that your recent Executive Order will affect many visa holders who work hard here in the United States and contribute to our country’s success”. Smith suggested that, in order to leave the USA and return, applicants must have a family-related emergency or an employer-mandated business trip.Trump’s executive order banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the country for 90 days.”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”, he writes.”U.S. immigration authorities already have a wide range of personal information about individuals in the visa categories that we have proposed”, the company explains.The Microsoft statement did clearly express that national security is important, as is the need of allowing these individuals that fill “critical roles in the organizations that employ them”. There are critically ill people in the United States whose relatives want to help them, but can not do so because of the order.”We are looking carefully at Friday’s United States executive order on immigration and how it will be implemented”. “We know that we do not have all the answers”, he wrote.”At the outset, we recognize that this proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order“, Smith wrote.