DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And we're listening this morning to reaction to President Trump's decision to phase out DACA. That is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay and work here. Trump's decision has been met with opposition from some prominent business leaders. And one of the most vocal is the president of Microsoft. NPR's Aarti Shahani caught up with him.
AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: Microsoft President Brad Smith, who can be quite measured, spoke with a great deal of passion when he said about the Trump administration...
BRAD SMITH: If the government wants to deport a DREAMer who is one of our employees, it's going to have to go through us to get that person.
SHAHANI: Go through us - those are fighting words. He and other tech execs, like the CEO of Apple, are pledging to legally protect the hundreds of DREAMer employees in their rank and file. Smith is also going a step further, saying that a legislative solution for DREAMers is Microsoft's top priority, more so than tax reform. While Republicans in Congress are getting ready to push a tax overhaul, which many CEOs want, the Microsoft leader says there is nothing his company will push more strongly than a solution for undocumented youth. And he's calling on other business leaders to do the same.
SMITH: A tax reform bill needs to be set aside until the DREAMers are taken care of. They have a deadline that expires in six months. Tax reform can wait.
SHAHANI: Being this vocal this quickly is a notable departure from the past. Just a few years ago, when Democratic politicians were trying to build support for comprehensive immigration reform, corporate leaders resisted the call to back a broad legalization and preferred to focus on narrow issues like H-1B visas. Smith says this time is different because DREAMers face a clear-cut deadline - six months - and unlike their parents, they know no other home.
SMITH: So many of these people only have one home. It is our home. It is our country, and it puts them in a completely different position.
SHAHANI: The CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Wells Fargo are among the many who've criticized Trump for rescinding DACA. This outpouring also illustrates a clear shift in business leaders' willingness to speak out against the administration. Microsoft's Smith says, in the beginning of 2017, he and others looked around and wondered how to navigate the public arena where they could be attacked by the commander in chief on social media. But now...
SMITH: I don't think people get up in the morning worrying about tweets. We have much bigger problems to worry about than that.
SHAHANI: Smith says Microsoft is reaching out to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Aarti Shahani, NPR News.
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