Microsoft goes to bat for Dreamers: Windows giant sues Uncle Sam to block staff deportations

Redmond, Princeton hope to protect folks from ICE swoops

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking at Build 2015
Subeall lobber ... Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft is suing the US government to prevent the deportation of immigrants – including at least 45 of its own staffers – who are in America under the now-dying DACA program.

The Redmond giant has signed on to a lawsuit filed by Princeton University on behalf of one of its students seeking an injunction against the Department of Homeland Security and its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows for children who entered the US illegally to obtain protection from being snatched and kicked out of the country by deportation officials.

Microsoft and Princeton, along with student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez, are asking a Washington DC District Court to issue an order that would preserve DACA's anti-deportation protections for Perales Sanchez and other "Dreamer" individuals.

Essentially, if you are brought to the United States under the age of 16 by parents as an illegal immigrant and have been here for several years, you're known as a Dreamer – a young person typically arriving from a not-so-great nation with the opportunity to live in and contribute to the Land of the Free. DACA grants protection from deportation to such people until they obtain American citizenship, and allows them to access stuff like schools without proper documentation in the meantime. That program, introduced in 2012 by President Obama, is coming to an end under Donald Trump, along with the safeguards it affords.

In backing the lawsuit, Microsoft argued that if Dreamers are threatened with deportation, its business stands to be harmed by a significant loss of skilled employees, who play vital roles in its day-to-day operations, if said staff are stopped and kicked out by immigration officials.

"Together with its subsidiary LinkedIn Corporation, Microsoft employs at least 45 DACA recipients as software engineers, financial analysts, inventory control experts, and in core technical and operations positions and other specialized functions and internships," the Windows goliath told the court on Friday.

"The company has invested significant resources in recruiting, retaining, and supporting these individuals, and in training them to develop within the organization."

Significant

The software giant went on to claim that should the status of DACA recipients be threatened by the government, it stands to take a significant hit to its both its bottom line and reputation as an employer.

"Given the persistent demand for high-skilled talent and the tightness of the labor supply for professionals in Microsoft’s industry, the costs of recruiting employees are high and unanticipated turnover is incredibly disruptive to business plans," the complaint read.

"Microsoft has significant interests in retaining the Dreamers it employs, and in reaping the benefits of their talent over time. It has conducted its business operations on the understanding that these individuals would continue to be eligible to work at the company."

This isn't the first time Microsoft and its massive legal department have stood up in defense of DACA. Shortly after the White House announced its plans to end the program, Microsoft president Brad Smith issued a statement condemning the decision, declaring "the Dreamers are part of our nation's fabric. They belong here."

Similarly, execs from Google, Facebook and Apple have come out against the decision and put their support behind DACA recipients, calling for Congress to pass a bill preserving the protections. ®




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