Standing up for every Dreamer

Brad Smith with Microsoft Employees Outside the Supreme Court in November 2019

They came to the United States as children, brought into the country undocumented by parents with dreams of a better life. Many were so young when they arrived that they have no recollection of their place of birth. We call these young people Dreamers – students, employees and military soldiers who aspire to make the country where they have lived most of their lives a permanent home.

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they’ve ever known.

More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to our company and serve our customers. They help create our products, secure our services, and manage our finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

We’ve told our Microsoft Dreamers that we will stand up for them along with all the nation’s DACA recipients. We’ll represent them in court and litigate on their behalf.  That’s why we joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that will be heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court. We will be there in person, along with a group of our employees, to show our support for DACA recipients.

For Microsoft, the decision to bring this case was straightforward. We believe Dreamers are worth protecting. The case speaks to the impact the rescission has on our business, company, employees and the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers across the country. It also has a broader impact on the country’s flow of talent and innovation economy, a perspective that we share with Princeton. Like all research- and innovation-focused organizations, both Microsoft and Princeton depend on the ability to attract talent from around the world. It’s essential not just to us, but also to our country’s ability to compete on the world stage.

Amidst this broader discussion, we also need to remember the individual stories of Dreamers and the contributions that they make. While the number of Dreamers is large, every number is a person and each person is an individual. In short, behind each number there is a unique and important story.

For example, one of the nation’s Dreamers is a young woman, a Microsoft service and security engineer, who was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. at the age of 4. She thought she was an American citizen until the day, years later, when she asked her mother to sign a permission slip for a school experience in Japan. That was the day that, with tears in her eyes, her mother told her she could never leave the country because she would not be allowed to come back. Inspired by her mother’s sacrifices for her and her siblings, in 2012 she followed her passion for technology through DigiGirlz, a program supported by Microsoft YouthSpark that gives girls the opportunity to learn about careers in technology. After years of commitment, further coursework, and unending grit, she is now building the next chapter of her story at our headquarters in Redmond with our Microsoft 365 team, thanks to DACA. At a time when cyber-attacks are increasing, she is using her skills and experience to help protect our customers across the country and around the world.

Another one of our employees is a Dreamer and software engineer who was born in Tepic, Mexico, and brought to the U.S. when he was only four months old. Growing up in Los Angeles, he and his family lived close to the poverty line for most of his childhood. He excelled in school and earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from California Polytechnic State University. His talents led to multiple offers for engineering roles at top technology companies, and we are thrilled that he is now part of our software development team near Seattle. Today he works to enhance productivity and performance for Azure, the cloud platform that is empowering customers of all sizes across the country – including government agencies – to transform their work. He is part of the team that helps make this transformation possible.

There are so many more stories like those, within and beyond Microsoft. For us, this fight is not just about our employees. It’s also about the potential impact of DACA rescission on the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, on businesses across the country, and on the innovation economy that is central to the nation’s prosperity. Roughly three-quarters of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies have confirmed that they employ Dreamers.

While we are the only company among the plaintiffs of the consolidated cases now before the Supreme Court, we know we represent employers of all sizes in making the case to uphold DACA. Last month, more than 140 companies and associations showed their support in a brief filed before the Court. They wrote about the serious harm that would be inflicted on the economy if we were to lose the contributions of Dreamers.

While the case before the Supreme Court is of fundamental importance, we also appreciate that it is insufficient in addressing the permanent needs of the nation’s Dreamer population. The only path to stability for Dreamers is a pathway to citizenship. And citizenship in this case can only come from Congress.

We also recognize that the Dreamers are one part of the broader immigration challenges we face as a nation. We are committed to constructive steps to attract and retain talent that helps fuel innovation and grow our economy for the benefit of every American. This includes reducing the green card backlog and constraints on high skilled visas. Innovation has been vital to the nation’s history. It needs to be equally fundamental to the country’s future – a future that requires creating more opportunities for those born in the United States as well as long-lasting solutions that support individuals like the Dreamers that have come as children from other nations

To read our merits brief on the case, click here.

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