Over 100 Microsoft employees contributed to an open letter that calls for the end of the relationship between the software’s maker and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who is responsible for separating migrant children from their families by the Mexican border.
“We believe that Microsoft must take an ethical stand, and put children and families above profits,” said the letter, which was addressed to the chief executive, Satya Nadella. The letter pointed to a $19.4 million contract that Microsoft has with ICE for processing data and artificial intelligence capabilities.
The Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy calls for the criminal prosecution of all immigrants caught crossing the border without authorization. As a result, over 2,000 children have been placed in overpacked “camps” away from their families. Microsoft workers are calling this “inhumane” and added: “As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit. We are part of a growing movement, comprised of many across the industry who recognize the grave responsibility that those creating powerful technology have to ensure what they build is used for good, and not for harm.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has now responded to this growing criticism of ICE contracts in an internal memo to all employees: “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. Our current cloud engagement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads.”
That pretty much sounds like they’re working closely to enable ICE and what they’re doing, and he just downplayed the company’s role in the separation of families.
Other companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are all also opposed to the work ICE has done lately, and are circulating internal emails asking for donations to nonprofit groups that support immigrants. Many have shared information about protests in San Francisco and Washington. And some of the workers have spoken to their managers about the issue or called on internal message boards for their chief executives to respond.