Microsoft is appealing to the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security on an exception to President Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Brad Smith, President and chief legal officer, laid out the company’s request in an open letter, proposing what Microsoft calls an exemption for “responsible known travelers with pressing needs,” sponsored by a U.S. company or university. It would allow visa holders from the seven countries affected by Trump’s ban to safely travel outside the U.S. without fear of being denied reentry, on the understanding that they will travel for periods of less than two weeks for either business purposes or family emergencies.
Brad Smith said, “These individuals fill critical roles in the organizations 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 our nation, and they serve critical roles in the successful operations of U.S. companies.”
Microsoft framed the move as an immediate way to help foreign employees who have been stranded outside the country where they live and work, as well as those who cannot leave the U.S. for fear they won’t be allowed back in. Microsoft has 76 employees with 41 dependents affected by the ban.
Microsoft is one of several tech companies that’s had to deal with employees affected by the ban. Unfortunately, employees would still have a limited ability to travel outside work. And the larger question of how the US should treat refugees and immigrants remains unanswered.