Microsoft employees ask company to cancel contract with ICE in open letter to CEO

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Update: Microsoft CEO calls border policy ‘cruel and abusive,’ says company’s technology isn’t aiding separation of parents and children

More than 100 Microsoft employees signed an open letter addressed to CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, demanding that the company end its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The New York Times first reported on the letter, which was posted on an internal message board and calls on Microsoft to end its work with ICE in light of the agency separating families and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Microsoft was in the spotlight Monday after an Azure blog post from January highlighting its work with ICE resurfaced on social media. The company later issued a statement, saying that Microsoft products are not being used specifically for the separation of families. Microsoft said it was “dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border.”

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

Gizmodo reported that some Microsoft employees have thought about quitting, while others outside the company are questioning future work with Microsoft. We’ve reached out to Microsoft about the letter and will update this story when we hear back.

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

Other tech companies are also sounding off on the immigration policy.

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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