Microsoft ‘dismayed’ by family separations at the border after criticism mounts over ICE contract


Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith. (GeekWire File Photo)

Following criticism over a cloud contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Microsoft issued a statement on Monday and said it was “dismayed” by the separation of families and children at the border.

Microsoft was called out on social media after users resurfaced a January blog post highlighting its work with ICE. Bloomberg reported that the reference to ICE in the post was removed but then later replaced on Monday.

The Trump administration has come under fire this month for its policy of separating parents and migrant children at the border.

Here’s the full statement from Microsoft:

“As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border. Family unification has been a fundamental tenant of American policy and law since the end of World War II. 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. We need to continue to build on this noble tradition rather than change course now. We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families.”

Bloomberg reported that Microsoft has more than $19 million in active cloud contracts with ICE.

Sources with knowledge of the issue tell GeekWire that Microsoft products are not being used specifically for the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Microsoft President Brad Smith addressed the border controversy in a blog post on LinkedIn this weekend.

“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.

Microsoft has previously taken a stance on immigration-related issues. The company and Princeton University sued the Trump administration in November claiming that attempts to end DACA, a program that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to study and work in the country, violate both the U.S Constitution and federal law. A federal judge sided with Microsoft and Princeton but the legal future of the program is still uncertain.

Tech giants are facing increasing scrutiny in regard to their work with the government. Amazon saw pushback this week on selling its facial recognition software to police, and Google said it won’t seek additional business related to a controversial artificial intelligence project it signed last year with the Department of Defense.

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