Ex-Microsoft CEO Ballmer: Tech protests over Trump's immigration ban conflating two separate issues

Ballmer: I'm glad immigration dialogue is playing out between tech and Trump

The protests from Silicon Valley and other corners of Corporate America over President Donald Trump's temporary immigration ban is putting two unrelated issues together, said billionaire Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and the son of an immigrant.

Three federal appeals court judges may decide as early as Thursday whether to reinstate Trump's executive order, which temporarily suspended travelers from seven mostly-Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

Ballmer, appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday, sees the debate over the ban as conflating two separate issues.

"One issue is specifically to what should or shouldn't be the situation with respect to seven countries. I think that set of checks and balances is going on," Ballmer said.

"The other issue, which is mostly unrelated, is what should our immigration policy look like for high-skilled workers," who can be important for technology firms and other companies to fill specialized jobs? Ballmer said.

"I'm the son of an immigrant. I do believe there's value to having immigrants come into the country," said Ballmer, whose father was an immigrant from Switzerland.

"And on the other side," he continued, "I do believe it's important to have reasonably secure borders. And I'm glad that dialogue is playing out."

In the CNBC interview, Ballmer also said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey should focus full-time on the ailing social media brand. Dorsey is also CEO of Square. Ballmer is a major holder of Twitter stock.

— Associated Press contributed to this report.

Correction: This story was revised to recast the headlines to more accurately summarize Ballmer's comments. It also corrected the name of the other company headed by Dorsey. It's Square.