As the rest of the world comes to grips with the impact of Donald Trump’s executive order prohibiting immigrants from seven countries from entering the United States, tech companies have been doing their best push back and figure out how the ban could impact the industry. Microsoft is taking things a step further, and in a lengthy plea the company lays out the need for formal exemptions of certain travelers, citing issues its own employees have had to deal with regarding the ban, and insisting that the current state of affairs simply isn’t acceptable.
The crux of Microsoft’s argument is that the government already has a wealth of information about many people in the visa program, and that preventing those individuals from traveling serves virtually no purpose.
“U.S. immigration authorities already have a wide range of personal information about individuals in the visa categories that we have proposed,” the company explains. “This includes individuals’ occupation, place of residence, place of work, family members, state identification/driver’s license information, and the existence of any criminal history. In short, these individuals are ‘known quantities’ in their communities: their character, personalities, conduct, and behavior is understood by their colleagues, employers, friends, and neighbors.”
Microsoft suggests creating what it calls an exemption for “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs,” which would allow verified individuals who travel for work, students, and certain other low-risk individuals the ability to travel as needed for their occupation or education.
“Many of these individuals also fill critical roles in the organizations that employ them, whether they are doctors, scientists, engineers, medical technicians, software developers, or any number of other highly skilled professionals,” Microsoft says. “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.”
The company has filed a formal request with the government for the exemption program to be considered, though whether it has a chance for approval or will fall on deaf ears remains to be seen.