Urgent DACA legislation is both an economic imperative and humanitarian necessity

September 7, 2017
Guest Post

by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft

This piece was originally posted on Microsoft On The Issues

We are deeply disappointed by the administration’s decision today to rescind protection under the program for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As we said last week, we believe this is a big step back for our entire country.

The question for individuals, employers and the country is what we do now.

For Microsoft, the first step is clear. The administration has given Congress six months to replace DACA with new legislation. We believe this means that Congress now needs to reprioritize the fall legislative calendar and move quickly with new legislation to protect these 800,000 Dreamers. This means that Congress should adopt legislation on DACA before it tries to adopt a tax reform bill. This is the only way, given the number of legislative days Congress has scheduled over the next six months, we realistically can expect Congress to complete DACA legislation in time.

We say this even though Microsoft, like many other companies, cares greatly about modernizing the tax system and making it fairer and more competitive. But we need to put the humanitarian needs of these 800,000 people on the legislative calendar before a tax bill. As an employer, we appreciate that Dreamers add to the competitiveness and economic success of our company and the entire nation’s business community. In short, urgent DACA legislation is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.

As this debate moves forward, we need to remember that these 800,000 individuals came to our nation as children. They grew up in this country. They attended our local schools and count millions of American citizens as friends. 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.

That’s why we believe a second point is also fundamental. Although we should all ask Congress to act within six months, we should be prepared for the possibility that it will not do so. Such a failure would not relieve anyone else in the country of the responsibility to act thoughtfully and wisely.

This is why we will work as needed with other companies and the broader business community to vigorously defend the legal rights of all Dreamers. For the 39 Dreamers that we know of who are our employees, our commitment is clear. If Congress fails to act, our company will exercise its legal rights properly to help protect our employees. If the government seeks to deport any one of them, we will provide and pay for their legal counsel. 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.

We appreciate that even limited immigration legislation like DACA is complex, controversial and even difficult. We also appreciate that this issue arises at a time of other important national priorities and sharp divisions within Congress. But when it comes to DACA, there are too many affected people who contribute too much to our country for Congress to fall short. There are leaders on both sides of the aisle who have long championed this issue. And there is a growing list of supporters from across the country who want to see this get done. We’re confident that Microsoft is but one of many companies and groups that will support them.