Microsoft, one of the tech companies that has expressed opposition to President Trump’s executive order on immigration, is asking the administration to grant exceptions on a case by case basis “that will permit `Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs’ to re-enter the country while protecting the nation’s security.”
Microsoft filed the formal request in a letter sent by company president and chief legal officer Brad Smith to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
“We recognize that this proposal will not and should not end the broader debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order,” Smith wrote in a blog post.
Trump’s order barred people from entering the U.S. from Syria indefinitely and temporarily restricts entry from six other primarily-Muslim countries: Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Microsoft said that 76 employees and their 41 dependents who have nonimmigrant visas were impacted by the executive order.
“But even amidst these debates, there is an opportunity under the executive order to address the pressing needs of real people,” Smith wrote.
“There currently are law-abiding visa holders who are parents that were outside the United States last Friday and therefore cannot re-enter the country. These parents are stranded and separated from their children. Other individuals are confronting genuine family emergencies such as the need to visit a critically ill parent.”
Smith outlined several criteria under which the exceptions be granted, including applicants who already have nonimmigrant visas sponsored by a U.S. employer or who have a student visa with an accredited U.S. university. Immediate family members to such individuals would also be considered for an exception. And applicants must also not have committed a crime in the U.S.
Smith wrote that many of these individuals fill critical roles in the organizations that employ them. “They are deeply valued contributors to the innovation, research and business acumen of our nation,” adding that it would also “be tragic for a student to be faced with the need to forfeit a dream of completing one’s education in the United States to tend to family needs that are entirely outside of one’s control.”