Microsoft writes to Trump, seeks exception on immigration ban

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Washington, Feb 3: Microsoft has requested the Trump administration to ease travel restrictions for its employees affected by the US President's executive order on immigration, visa and border security.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary Gen (rtd) John Kelly, Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Bradford L Smith said 76 Microsoft employees along with 41 dependents have non-immigrant visas to live and work in the US and are impacted by the executive order.

Microsoft writes to Trump, seeks exception on immigration ban

"After contacting these employees and their families, we have learned that some of them have particularly pressing needs. For example, we are concerned about families that have been separated as one or both parents were outside the US last Friday and therefore cannot re-enter the country and are stranded away from their homes," he wrote.

"We are also concerned about an impacted employee inside the US with a desperate need to visit a critically-ill parent abroad. These situations almost certainly are not unique to our employees and their families. Therefore, we request that you create an exception process to address these and other responsible applications for entry into the country," he said.

In another significant development signifying the unease in the corporate world over the immigration ban, Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick quit Trump's business advisory group, as a movement grew to dump the ride-sharing service because of his connection to the new administration.

In his letter seeking exception, Smith also said he believes such an exception under the existing framework of the order would help address compelling personal needs without compromising the order's security-related objectives. From the perspective of safety and security, a wide range of personal information is known about individuals holding non-immigrant work visas, including their occupation, place of work, place of residence, family members, state identification/driver's license information, and the existence of any criminal history, he wrote.

These are not people trying to avoid detection. Rather, these individuals are "known quantities" in their communities: their character, personalities, conduct, and behaviour is well recognised and understood by their employers, colleagues, friends, and neighbours, he added. Smith said these individuals fill critical roles in the organisations that employ them, whether they are doctors, scientists, engineers, medical technicians, researchers, architects, software developers, or any number of other highly skilled professionals.

They are deeply valued contributors to the innovation, research, and business acumen of the US, and they serve critical roles in the successful operations of American companies, he said. Smith said the individuals who would be eligible for the proposed exception have already been vetted on numerous levels by the US government for security risks in order to be approved for employment on a non-immigrant visa.

Trump last week signed a sweeping executive order to suspend the arrival of refugees and impose tough new controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

PTI

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