Advocacy Groups Representing Millions Turn Up Pressure On Microsoft To Cancel Contract With ICE
Organizations collectively representing more than 7 million people have collected over 300k signatures and will deliver to Microsoft CEO
July 26th, 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Imran Siddiquee, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY - A growing coalition of advocacy groups representing more than 7 million people are demanding that Microsoft cancel their contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and stop providing operational support for violence against immigrant families.
Earlier this year, Microsoft boasted online that Azure, a cloud computing service with deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification, was “mission critical” to ICE. Amid disturbing reports of widespread human rights abuses by ICE agents, including family separation and sexual assault, more than 300,000 people have signed petitions launched by Color Of Change, Mijente, Demand Progress, Sum Of Us, Fight for the Future, Center for Media Justice, Free Press Action Fund, MPower Change, Daily Kos, CREDO Action, Jobs With Justice, Presente.org and The Nation.
The coalition will hold a joint press conference and petition delivery at the Microsoft Redmond campus on July 26, 2018 to show solidarity with over 500 employees at Microsoft who have signed an open letter to CEO Satya Nadella expressing concern that the products of their labor are being used for violence against migrants and calling for an end to the contract. There will also be solidarity protests at Microsoft stores and offices across the country on July 26th.
Leaders from this coalition of organizations issued the following statements:
"As long as Microsoft maintains its contract with ICE, they remain complicit in the brutality and racism of ICE," said Steven Renderos, Campaign Director at the Center for Media Justice, which launched this petition. "The company is gaining millions of dollars while families of color are torn apart and children sleep in cages. In the face of such inhumanity, the choice for Microsoft, and the many other tech companies which still work with ICE, is simple: They can either provide the infrastructure that supports the Trump administration's destruction of our communities or they can take responsibility— following the lead of their own employees —and cancel their contract."
“Microsoft is complicit in profiting from a violent mass incarceration and deportation scheme,” said Scott Roberts, Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change who launched this petition. “No child belongs in a cage, tent city, or juvenile detention center at any time or in any place. The act of separating and detaining families would not be possible without the massive bureaucratic and logistical machine behind it. It is not enough to simply speak symbolic words against these acts. Microsoft must take action in the one way that will make an actual impact, canceling the contract. We will hold any corporation accountable for their role in advancing Trump’s violence against our communities, and we will not stop they until heed the call of thousands of tech workers and people directly impacted by this crisis.”
"While ICE is keeping children in cages and dragging their feet on reuniting families, Microsoft is not only enabling ICE, they're profiting off this human misery. Activists and Microsoft's own employees have joined the rallying cry, 'It's time to divest from ICE,'" said Reuben Hayslett, a campaigner at Demand Progress. "There's still time for CEO Satya Nadella to stand on the right side of history by not just denouncing ICE and its policies, but canceling their contract with ICE and refusing to outfit their operations with cloud computing services."
Yana Calou of Coworker.org, which has been conducting trainings and providing support for people in the tech industry who want to take action on workplace issues, says “What we're seeing in the tech industry is that, despite company efforts to downplay the scope and impact of government contract, employees remain very concerned about their companies’ roles in providing infrastructure for ICE and other agencies. At Microsoft, employees want answers -- they still do not have basic internal transparency around the company's ongoing projects, and they’re asking their company to lead on this human rights issue by canceling their contract with ICE.”
"Despite Microsoft’s supposedly progressive values, the company lends data and artificial intelligence capabilities to help ICE track down undocumented immigrants in their places of work, schools, and homes,” said Emma Pullman, lead campaign strategist at SumOfUs. “ICE is the same government agency responsible for tearing children as young as 3 months old away from their families and detaining them. And while Microsoft may defend itself by saying the company is not directly responsible for family separation and family detention, they are still helping ICE tear families apart. Microsoft executives need to take responsibility for their role in these egregious acts."
“The technology Microsoft provides to ICE enables a deportation machine that is inhumane and in violation of human rights,” said Lucia Martínez, campaigner for Free Press Action Fund. “That’s why we’re calling on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to act with conscience and cancel Microsoft’s contract with ICE. In doing so, Nadella will be standing in solidarity with his employees, hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and immigrant children who remain in cages.”
“Microsoft is providing a technological foundation for ICE’s work. They play a huge part in the ongoing family separation horror” said Jelani Drew, campaigner at Fight for the Future who launched this campaign. “It’s time for Microsoft to stop simply making statements condemning the violation of human rights, and start actually live by their word.”
“Caging children is a crime, not a business model. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, who continues to defend their contract with ICE will go down in history not as compassionate titan of industry, but as a profiteer. Tech executives either fail to grasp the power they have to stop this deportation machine or are too enticed by future riches to stop it.” said Marisa Franco, co-founder of the Latino activist organization Mijente. “That machine requires many gears to turn. If thousands more tech employees stand together with immigrant activists — if tech executives feel more internal pressure, while activists apply ever more external pressure — then we can bring the deportation machine to a grinding halt.”
"If Microsoft is truly morally outraged by ICE’s actions, it must walk the walk and stop profiting off of Donald Trump's mass incarceration and deportation agenda," said Nicole Regalado, campaign manager with CREDO Action. "Nadella has tried to brand himself as a CEO who puts 'empathy at the center of everything.' This is his chance to prove it. Microsoft must cancel its contract – now."
"Tech companies can no longer ignore the negative impacts of their work, said a volunteer with Tech Workers Coalition. “Many social ills are exacerbated by the cutting-edge services they choose to sell to bad actors. The point shouldn't be to pour charity onto those ills, it should be to evaluate whether or not work that is taken on by the company contributes to human suffering."
“Hey, Satya Nadella, where do you want to go today? Will you continue your Faustian deal or be on the side of your values, workers, and customers? This is a torture-for-profit racket. Tech companies who support the inhumane policies of the Trump Administration have lost their moral compass and will be held responsible for the violence and suffering they accelerate and profit from,” said Matt Nelson, Executive Director of Presente.org. “No company should be in the business of caging children and families. If Microsoft continues down this treacherous, soulless path, it will lose the trust of thousands of its employees and millions of consumers."
Launched in 2009, the Center for Media Justice is a national racial justice center for media and digital rights based in Oakland, California.