Microsoft came under fire on social media for its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that’s separating families at the U.S.-Mexican border.
The company now says it’s “dismayed,” by new actions by the Trump administration to jail immigrant parents who attempt to come to the U.S. without going through legal channels, and take their children away into detention facilities.
” As a company Microsoft has worked for over 20 years to combine technology with the rule of law to ensure that children who are refugees and immigrants can remain with their parents,” it said in a statement.
In a January blog post, Microsoft touted a contract with ICE for its cloud-based software Azure, saying it would help ICE process data faster. The line that resonated with social media over the weekend was Microsoft saying it was “proud to support,” the work of ICE in the post.
On Twitter, Microsoft drew outrage in posts that mention how CEO Satya Nadella was also an immigrant, and asked Microsoft to take a stand on what’s happening on the border with families being separated.
Microsoft employees chimed in. Larry Osterman, a Microsoft engineer, asked company president Brad Smith how working for ICE jibes with “our ethical stances….Not cool.”
Tech Workers Coalition, an advocacy group, urged on Twitter for Microsoft employees not to “be complicit,” in working with ICE.
Tech companies are finding themselves in the cross hairs over government contracts as employees increasingly vocalize their disagreement over the far-reaching consequences of their technologies.
The American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights groups recently demanded hat Amazon stop selling a facial recognition software tool, called Rekognition, to police and other government entities because they fear it could be used to unfairly target protesters, immigrants and any person just going about their daily business.
Meanwhile, Microsoft, after being contacted by media organizations about the statement of support for ICE, the blog post was amended to take out the “proud” reference, but it’s been since updated to the original statement,
Microsoft didn’t back down from its support of ICE, but while noting that it didn’t support the new “zero tolerance” immigration policy, did urge Congress “to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families,” the company said in a statement.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft’s contract with ICE is worth $19.14 million.
On LinkedIn, Microsoft’s Smith penned a Father’s Day post in which he said the news of migrant children being taken from their families was “especially poignant.”
“When we keep children with their parents, we not only follow in the footsteps of one of the world’s oldest and most important humanitarian traditions, we help build a stronger country,” he wrote.
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