Most Pacific Northwesterners spend long, rainy months pining for summer. But Microsoft President Brad Smith is having a hard time celebrating because he sees three clouds on the political horizon.
During an appearance at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on Tuesday, Smith told Recode’s Kara Swisher that he has three immigration-related concerns that could make this “a tough summer.” If President Donald Trump takes any of the actions Smith warned about, Microsoft employees would be directly impacted.
Previously: Microsoft’s Brad Smith explains what Zuckerberg did right, what Microsoft missed, and how the company has changed
Smith told Swisher he is worried that Republicans and Democrats will fail to reach a compromise on DACA, a program that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to study and work in the country. He is also concerned that the administration will revoke a program that authorizes spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the U.S. Smith’s third fear is that the optional practical training program for immigrant graduates with STEM degrees will be reduced, “at which point we could have thousands of people suddenly unable to work,” Smith said.
“I just think that this is terrible for the country, it’s terrible for the tech sector, and it is a tragedy for the individuals involved,” he said. “We may need to use our voice as an industry, not just with the public, not just in Congress, but we may need to continue to go to court.”
Immigration is a flagship issue for Microsoft and other big tech companies. Microsoft and Princeton University sued the Trump administration in November claiming that attempts to end DACA violate both the U.S Constitution and federal law. A federal judge sided with Microsoft and Princeton but the legal future of the program is still uncertain.
In his conversation with Swisher, Smith called on the tech industry to rally together behind key issues, use the resources at their disposal, and help develop compromises.
“It’s important that, as much as possible, we all stand together,” Smith said. “This industry has been united and I think that’s important.”