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Microsoft pushes to exempt workers, students from travel ban

While still opposed to the immigration ban, the tech giant tells Trump administration officials it's crucial to address people's immediate needs.

Demonstrators in Chicago on Monday protest President Trump's immigration ban.
Max Herman, NurPhoto via Getty Images

In the wake of President Donald Trump's immigration ban, Microsoft has made a formal plea to the administration to make exceptions for workers and students.

The tech giant is not backing down from its stand against the ban. But in a letter Thursday to the secretaries of homeland security and state, Microsoft asked them to create an exception process, allowing "responsible known travelers with pressing needs" to enter the US.

Microsoft said people with employer-sponsored work visas or student visas in good standing at an accredited university should be exempt from the ban.

"These are not people trying to avoid detection," according to the five-page letter by Brad Smith, Microsoft's chief legal counsel. "Rather, these individuals are 'known quantities' in their communities: their character, personalities, conduct, and behavior is well recognized and understood by their employers, colleagues, friends, and neighbors."

The Homeland Security Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump signed an executive order Friday temporarily banning refugees from anywhere in the world and visitors from seven largely Muslim countries. Protesters crowded airports across the country over the weekend, with demonstrations continuing this week. The backlash from the tech industry was swift too, with some executives labeling the ban as bigotry and calling it "un-American." Microsoft is reportedly joining other tech giants -- including Google, Apple and Facebook -- in drafting a letter to Trump opposing the ban.

"We know that we do not have all the answers; in publishing this proposal, we hope that others will improve upon our ideas," Smith wrote in a company blog post Thursday. "Nor does this request attempt to address all the important immigration questions currently before the nation. But we believe there is a need and opportunity, amidst the broader debate, for immediate action under the executive order to help real people address pressing needs."

You can read the letter in full below.

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