Microsoft employees call on company to cancel contract with ICE

Darnell Taylor
June 20, 2018

I want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with the USA government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border. The post mainly mentioned Azure Government's ability to process data on edge devices or utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification.

Following recent outcry against the Trump administration's cruel policy, Microsoft said in a statement it was "dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border".

Though the ATO has been public for six months already, it resurfaced as outrage grew over the separation of families, including those legally seeking asylum with children, with many social media users calling for a boycott of Microsoft and some employees considering resigning.

The letter also asks Microsoft to enact a policy that states it will not work with companies that violate worldwide human rights laws, and references a January statement from Microsoft that proudly announces the contract.

Few images or sounds from the detention facilities where children are being held have emerged, but on Monday, Propublica published the first bit of audio that demonstrates what it sounds like when a young girl is separated from her father at the border that quickly vent viral and crashed the nonprofit news organization's website.

The letter demands Microsoft "cancel its contracts" with ICE, as well as those with clients who support the law enforcement agency's work.

The letter comes after critics tweeted out a Microsoft blog post from January highlighting its contract with ICE.

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Later in the day, Microsft released a formal statement, which calls on the Trump administration to stop the family separations.

Tensions within the company have gone beyond just an uncoordinated response, however, as Gizmodo reports multiple employees within the company have also shown their vexation at the Microsoft's work with the embattled immigration agency. When Microsoft removed from its website a reference to working with ICE, the company found itself pulled into the political debate.

While keeping to the rather neutral tones of such canned statements, Microsoft made it clear that it's not in favour of separating immigrants from their children at USA borders.

"Any engagement with any government has been and will be guided by our ethics and principles", Nadella wrote.

Microsoft has been politically active on immigration issues in the last couple years, opposing the Muslim travel ban and supporting Dreamers, young people who came to the US illegally as children, in statements and court cases. "We will continue to have this dialogue both within our company and with our stakeholders outside".

Microsoft's full statement is below.

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