Microsoft goes to bat for Dreamer employees as Supreme Court prepares to hear DACA case

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Microsoft President Brad Smith speaking at the 2019 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

There’s the service and security engineer — brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was four years old — who took an early interest in technology. One of her colleagues arrived at just four months of age, an excellent student who had offers from several top tech companies after graduating from California Polytechnic. They’re just two of the five dozen or so Microsoft employees facing an uncertain future ahead of a critical case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear next week.

Microsoft President Brad Smith spotlighted their stories in a blog post Friday as he and others on his team prepare to head to Washington D.C. Microsoft, Princeton University, and other plaintiffs are challenging President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. DACA has allowed dozens of Microsoft employees and some 700,000 other undocumented immigrants, brought to the U.S. as children, to remain in the country.

“We’ve told our Microsoft Dreamers that we will stand up for them along with all the nation’s DACA recipients,” Smith wrote. “We’ll represent them in court and litigate on their behalf.”

Microsoft’s is one of three DACA cases the Supreme Court will hear on Nov. 12.

President Barack Obama enacted DACA by executive order in 2012 after Congress failed to enact a solution for the so-called Dreamers. Its recipients are authorized to pursue an education and work in the U.S. In 2017, Trump moved to rescind the program, prompting several lawsuits from universities, states, and civil rights groups. Microsoft is the only corporation to join the legal challenges to DACA’s repeal. Lower courts have blocked the administration’s efforts to rescind DACA over the past two years.

The Trump administration claims DACA was an overreach of executive power because changes to immigration policy are the responsibility of Congress. Microsoft and other plaintiffs take issue with that claim in their brief because no court has found DACA to be an illegal program:

It is impossible to discern what, exactly, the Government found unlawful about DACA. And because the Administration did not analyze its own legal concerns in a reasoned fashion, it was premature for the Administration to conclude that rescission of DACA in its entirety was required or appropriate.

The tech industry largely opposes the decision to end DACA, with companies filing friend of the court briefs and speaking out on behalf of Dreamers. Microsoft has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of Trump’s decision and the administration’s other controversial immigration policies.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, uncertainty will loom for Dreamers unless Congress steps in with a permanent solution, Smith said.

“The only path to stability for Dreamers is a pathway to citizenship,” he wrote Friday. “And citizenship in this case can only come from Congress.”

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