Microsoft has opposed the Trump Administration's policy of separating families at the border, while facing criticism from employees for doing with with ICE.

Share story

Microsoft President Brad Smith said the issue of family immigration reform is not over, despite the executive order President Trump signed Wednesday.

The order came after weeks of intense backlash against the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their migrant parents at the Mexican border. The order will halt the practice, but brings with it questions about how families will be detained.

“We have to make sure as kids enter the country, their rights are protected and they are treated humanely,” Smith said in an interview Wednesday. Smith serves as chairman of the board of Kids in Need of Defense, a national organization that Microsoft co-founded that helps unaccompanied children get legal help in immigration cases.

He also said the executive order “seemed to solve one problem” — the issue of keeping families together  — but raised other concerns about keeping children in detention centers.

Most Read Business Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Microsoft was pulled into the public debate in the past few days when a months-old blog post touting the company’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resurfaced.

More than 150 employees of the Redmond tech company signed an open letter Tuesday asking Microsoft to end its contract with ICE.

Smith on Wednesday pointed to an email sent by CEO Satya Nadella to all employees Tuesday night, indirectly addressing the letter. In it, Nadella reiterated the company’s condemnation of the policy of separating families, and said the company’s work with ICE had nothing to do with that policy.

“I want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border,” Nadella wrote.

Nadella has also been responding to some employees individually to address concerns, an employee said Wednesday. Some Microsoft employees have asked him for further information on the company’s contract with ICE.

Smith said the company would continue to work with lawmakers on immigration reform. He pointed out the complicated issues that surround family immigration, which often involve people seeking asylum from gang violence or other dangerous situations.

Smith penned a blog post Tuesday night, calling for changes to recently introduced immigration reform bills to make them explicitly protect children’s rights.

“We would rather win the battle than withdraw from the battlefield,” he said.