- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Scores of Microsoft employees have signed a letter urging the tech titan’s chief executive to completely cut ties with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border.

“We believe that Microsoft must take an ethical stand, putting children and families above profits,” begins an open letter addressed to CEO Satya Nadella posted to the company’s internal message board Tuesday afternoon, The New York Times first reported.

“Therefore, we ask that Microsoft cancel its contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately, including contracts with clients who support ICE. We also call on Microsoft to draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Microsoft nor its contractors will work with clients who violate international human rights law,” the letter said.

Employees who signed the letter said they were “dismayed” to learn that Microsoft has a standing contract with ICE valued at over $19 million.

“We request that Microsoft cancel its contracts with ICE, and with other clients who directly enable ICE,” the employees wrote. “As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit.”

The letter garnered more than 100 signatures within hours of being posted, The Times reported.

In an email sent to employees Tuesday and subsequently shared online, Mr. Nadella downplayed Microsoft’s relationship with ICE while calling the administration’s border policies “cruel and abusive.”

“I want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border,” Mr. Nadella insisted.

Microsoft does provide cloud services to ICE, Mr. Nadella acknowledged, but those are limited to mail, calendar, messaging and document management, he said.

Microsoft has a long history of taking a principled approach to how we live up to our mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more with technology platforms and tools, while also standing up for our enduring values and ethics. Any engagement with any government has been and will be guided by our ethics and principles,” wrote Mr. Nadella.

Jason Zander, the vice president of Azure, Microsoft’s cloud division, claimed that the existing contract involves neither artificial intelligence, cognitive services nor facial recognition, Gizmodo reported Tuesday evening.

More than 2,000 children have been separated from their migrant parents as a consequence of the new “zero tolerance” policy adopted by the Trump administration to punish people caught illegally entering the U.S.

President Trump, for his part, has accused Democrats of forcing his administration to take action.

“Our immigration laws are the weakest and worst anywhere in the world, and the Dems will do anything not to change them & to obstruct-want open borders which means crime!” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

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