[Update, Tuesday morning]: Microsoft’s Nadella spoke to employees Monday about his own experiences as an immigrant, saying, “it is the ingenuity of the American technology that reached me where I was growing up that even made it possible for me to dream of being able to be part of this journey. It is the enlightened immigration policy of this country that even made it possible for me to come here in the first place, and gave me all this opportunity.”]
[Update, Sunday evening: Microsoft issued a new, strongly-worded statement via a company spokesman: “We believe the executive order is misguided and a fundamental step backwards. There are more effective ways to protect public safety without creating so much collateral damage to the country’s reputation and values.”]
President Donald Trump’s immigration stance is continuing to stoke concern among technology executives who rely on immigrants to help power the tech economy in the U.S.
Microsoft this afternoon became the latest to speak out on the topic, saying that it’s aware of 76 employees who are citizens of the seven predominantly Muslim countries whose citizens are blocked from entry to the U.S. for 90 days under Trump’s executive order. The company is promising “fast and effective legal advice and assistance” to employees impacted by the order.
“As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world,” wrote Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a post on LinkedIn this afternoon. “We will continue to advocate on this important topic.”
Nadella — who was born in India and moved to the U.S. to study computer science at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee — pointed to a more in-depth email from Microsoft president Brad Smith which was sent to employees on Saturday afternoon. In that email, Smith said: “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,” wrote Smith. “And we believe in the importance of protecting legitimate and law-abiding refugees whose very lives may be at stake in immigration proceedings.”
Several other tech executives — including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai — responded negatively to Trump’s move to ban those from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya from entering the U.S. for 90 days.
Here’s Brad Smith’s full email, which was sent under the subject line: “Yesterday’s U.S. Executive Order on Immigration.”
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.