Microsoft supports plan for undocumented immigrants

Microsoft pushes for a bill that would allow foreign students to stay in the United States

Microsoft sent a letter to two U.S. senators in support of a bill that would allow some undocumented immigrant students to become permanent U.S. residents if they go to college.

The letter is part of an ongoing initiative at the company to encourage new regulations that will allow more foreign workers into the United States.

Sent to Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, and Senator Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, the letter backs a bill they introduced called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.

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"It is essential to our nation's competitiveness and success to nurture the talent we have and to incorporate bright, hardworking students into the workforce to become the next generation of leaders in this country," wrote Fred Humphries, managing director of U.S. government affairs for Microsoft, in the letter.

The bill would let immigrant students become permanent residents if they arrived in the United States as children, have lived here long-term, and attend college or enlist in the military for at least two years, Humphries said in a blog post.

He estimates that 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the United States each year. The bill would allow some of them to move on to college and eventually get jobs in the country, he said.

Microsoft has a long history of lobbying the government on immigration issues. For example, it has asked the government to increase the number of foreign workers who can receive visas under the H-1B program, which allows skilled workers from other countries to temporarily work in the United States.

It promoted changes to the H-1B program even after Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, expressed concern that Microsoft would retain foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified Americans after the company's recently announced layoffs. Microsoft eliminated 1,400 positions in January and plans to cut more than 3,000 additional jobs in the coming months.

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