Microsoft executives are trying to reason with employees who protested against the company’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Microsoft is not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a staff-wide email Tuesday evening.
Nadella clarified that the only contract Microsoft has with ICE is for “supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging, and document management workloads.”
More than 100 Microsoft employees signed an open letter on Tuesday to Nadella asking him to terminate any contract the company has with ICE after reports that the agency is separating children from their parents after illegally crossing the southern border.
“[W]e ask that Microsoft cancel its contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately, including contracts with clients who support ICE,” the employees’ letter read. “We also call on Microsoft to draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Microsoft nor its contractors will work with clients who violate international human rights law.”
Microsoft President Brad Smith issued a statement Tuesday evening in response to the employees’ letter as well, but it doesn’t mention Microsoft’s relationship with ICE.
“Microsoft is a company of immigrants in a nation of immigrants,” Smith wrote. “Reflecting this perspective, for more than a decade we’ve made the protection of children in immigration proceedings one of Microsoft’s signature civic initiatives.”
ICE has come under heavy scrutiny for the policy of separating children from parents lately, but the policy has been around since Barack Obama was president. The Obama administration prosecuted half a million illegal immigrants from 2010 to 2016, which resulted in 20 percent of them separated from their children, The Daily Caller reported Tuesday.
Employees protesting their own company’s involvement with the government is a growing trend in the tech industry. (RELATED: Microsoft Employees Send CEO Letter Asking To Terminate Contract With ICE)
Google employees protested against the company’s involvement in developing artificial intelligence for the Defense Department in March. More than 3,000 Google employees signed an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai blasting the program and saying it’s “evil.” Another 12 employees resigned from the Google in protest in March.
The Google employees’ actions were successful in their goal to end the contract with the Pentagon. Google decided not renew its Pentagon contract on May 30, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
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