Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith addresses shareholder during Microsoft Shareholders Meeting December 3, 2014 in Bellevue, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer pledged in a blog post Tuesday to protect the company’s employees who were brought to the country illegally when they were children, even as federal officials announced the end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that the program -- which protects, on a temporary basis, certain immigrants brought to the country illegally as children -- was an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.” The program was created in 2012 with an executive order by then-President Barack Obama in response to Congress’ failure to act on immigration reform.
In a blog post shared shortly after Sessions’ announcement, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said that the company was “deeply disappointed by the administration’s decision.”
“We believe this is a big step back for our entire country,” Smith wrote.
He urged lawmakers to focus on solving the issue of what to do with the roughly 800,000 people who fall under the DACA program, writing that debates over tax reform should be pushed back in favor of addressing immigration reform.
“We say this even though Microsoft, like many other companies, cares greatly about modernizing the tax system and making it fairer and more competitive,” Smith wrote. “But we need to put the humanitarian needs of these 800,000 people on the legislative calendar before a tax bill.”
He said the company is aware of 39 so-called “dreamers," named for the stalled Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act or “DREAM Act,” who work for Microsoft. The DREAM Act offered many of the same protections as DACA but was never approved in Congress.
“If Congress fails to act, our company will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect our employees,” Smith said. “If the government seeks to deport any one of them, we will provide and pay for their legal council. We will also file an amicus brief and explore whether we can directly intervene in any such case.
“In short, if Dreamers who are our employees are in court, we will be by their side.”
Smith said that, as an employer, Microsoft recognized that DACA recipients “add to the competitiveness and economic success of our country and the entire nation’s business community.”
He highlighted that those eligible for the DACA program were brought to the country when they were children and grew up in America.
“They attended our local schools and count millions of American citizens as friends,” Smith wrote. “They obey our laws, pay taxes here and have registered voluntarily with the federal government for DACA relief. They are loyal to this country and contribute their time and money to local churches, schools and community groups. The Dreamers are part of our nation’s fabric. They belong here.”
In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, lawmakers said they planned to again review the DREAM Act. The act passed the House of Representatives, but it stalled before the Senate in 2011.