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Microsoft employees demand company cut all ties with ICE: 'Microsoft is a company of immigrants

Microsoft employees have demanded that the company sever all ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The uproar over a policy that results in the separation of some illegal immigrant children from their parents at the border has spilled into corporate America, and employees at Microsoft have demanded that their company take action, according to The Hill.

More than 100 employees posted a letter online, demanding that Microsoft cut all ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We are part of a growing movement, comprised of many across the industry who recognize the grave responsibility that those creating powerful technology have to ensure what they build is used for good, and not for harm," the letter stated.

What's the story?

The internal conflict began when immigration activists noticed that a Microsoft blog post from January had expressed how proud the company was to support ICE's work.

Microsoft has a contract with ICE worth more than $19 million to support the agency's data processing and artificial intelligence capabilities, according to the New York Times.

That blog post was deleted by an employee before later being restored. Microsoft called the post's deletion, which was a response to the backlash, a mistake.

Disgruntled employees drafted a letter demanding that Microsoft cut ties with ICE and any other clients that support the agency.

"As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit," the letter read.

The letter outlined three requests:

  • Cancel the existing Azure Government contract with ICE immediately;
  • Draft, publicize, and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Microsoft nor its contractors will work with clients who violate international human rights law; and
  • Commit to transparency and review regarding contracts between Microsoft and government agencies in the U.S. and beyond.

Microsoft's response

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella published an email that he sent to his employees, titled "My views on U.S. immigration policy."

"As both a parent and an immigrant, this issue touches me personally," Nadella wrote.

Nadella called the family separation policy cruel and abusive and said Microsoft doesn't work with ICE on any projects related to that policy.

"We will always stand for immigration policies that preserve every person's dignity and human rights," Nadella wrote. "That means standing with every immigrant who works at Microsoft and standing for change in the inhumane treatment of children at the U.S. border today."

Nadella's letter did not address the demands outlined in his employees' letter.

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