Trump’s executive order amending the ‘zero tolerance’ practice that separated families at the border was forced by hands of the millions of outraged people across the country, but it doesn’t go far enough to end the criminalization of immigrants.1 Trump's order means that families will be detained together going forward, but there’s no plan to reunite children currently detained in isolation.2 This is unacceptable, state-sanctioned violence. There shouldn’t be any kids in cages, at any time or in any place. Not in tent cities at our borders, not in abandoned Walmarts, and not in juvenile detention centers. We have to dismantle the structures of mass deportation, not institutionalize them.
Black folks know that the answer to family separation is not family detention. We know that the southern border is a point of entry for many of our folks from the Caribbean.3 We have to consider the impact this will have on Black immigrant families, who are affected by both immigration enforcement policies and the criminal legal system which mutually inform each other and are deeply embedded within each other.
As outrage over ‘zero tolerance’ has built over the last week, the role of corporations in enabling the deportation machine has been revealed. It was exposed that Microsoft is actively profiting from a $19.4 million contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 4 Trump is really clear about his agenda to entrench the racist systems of incarceration and deportation, we have to be really clear about our intentions to dismantle that same system.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently claimed the company “will always stand for immigration policies that preserve every person’s dignity and human rights.” 5 So, it’s unclear why he won’t cancel a contract with an agency that routinely violates constitutional and human rights.6 If we can build enough public pressure to remind Microsoft that their clients and contracts should reflect their ideals, then we can get them to drop their contract with ICE and dismantle the technological structure ICE needs to fuel their deportation machine.
In recent days, Microsoft has denied being directly involved in ‘any projects related to separating children from their families at the border’ but they can’t deny their overall complicity.7 However, in a January blog post, Microsoft boasted that their cloud computing software Azure, is “mission-critical” to ICE’s operations. Azure has capabilities that range from hosting a customer’s data to facial recognition. Nadella maintains that the company is “supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging, and document management workloads.”8
Tell Microsoft to embody their stated support of human rights by withdrawing their technical support of ICE.
This week, the momentum has been building within the company. Microsoft employees signed an open letter, published in the New York Times, asking the CEO to cancel the contract with ICE, citing ‘the grave responsibility that those creating powerful technology have to ensure what they build is used for good, and not for harm.’ 9
In recent months, tech companies have taken principled stands on immigration and criminal justice issues when public pressure combined with internal pressure. More than 4,000 Google employees signed a petition objecting to the company’s work on Project Maven, which seeks to apply AI to the military.10 Internal protest combined with external objectionst from academics, researchers, and shareholders. Last week, Amazon shareholders published an open letter asking CEO Jeff Bezos to halt development of Amazon’s image-recognition software for use in government surveillance until it can be examined by Amazon’s board of directors.11
There is a growing movement for corporate accountability for the impact tech companies have in the world. Color Of Change, with organizational partners, recently helped Google and Facebook see that they should divest from the bail bond industry.12 Further, under pressure from advocates like Color Of Change, Trump was forced to disband his American Technology Council.13
Companies can recognize the power of consumer demands.
Companies can recognize the power of consumer demands.
Let’s demand Microsoft drop ICE and stop turning a profit at the expense of Black and Brown families.
Until Justice is Real,
Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Clarise, Anay, Kristen, Marena, Tamar, Lorran, Daniel, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
1. "Trump Retreats on Separating Families, Signing Order to Detain Them Together." New York Times, 20 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65466?t=10&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
2. "The Government Has No Plan for Reuniting the Immigrant Families It Is Tearing Apart." The New Yorker, 18 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65468?t=12&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
3. "The experience of black immigrants foretells what’s to come for Central Americans." The Hill, 16 May 2018. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/65470?t=14&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
4. "Microsoft's ethical reckoning is here." Wired, 18 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65472?t=16&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
5. "My views on U.S. immigration policy." LinkedIn, 18 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65474?t=18&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
6. "Ice and Border Patrol Abuses." ACLU. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65476?t=20&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
7. "Microsoft statement on separating families at the southern border." Microsoft Corporate Blog, 18 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65478?t=22&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
8. "My views on U.S. immigration policy." LinkedIn, 18 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65474?t=24&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
9."Microsoft Employees Protest Work With ICE, as Tech Industry Mobilizes Over Immigration." New York Times, 19 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65480?t=26&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
10. "‘The Business of War’ : Google Employees Protest Work for the Pentagon." New York Times, 4 April 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65481?t=28&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
11. " Amazon shareholders demand company stop selling facial recognition technology to governments." Independent, 18 June 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65482?t=30&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
12."Bail-bond industry suffers another blow as Facebook and Google ban ads." NBC News, 8 May 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/48418?t=32&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
13. "How the business president lost the business community." Vox, 17 August 2018. https://act.colorofchange.org/go/65590?t=34&akid=14730%2E1942551%2EUkLLU6
Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.