Microsoft, an ICE Tech Partner, 'Dismayed' by Child Separation Policy

After Twitter users pointed out Microsoft’s relationship with ICE, the tech giant is publicly distancing itself from the agency's parent-child separations.

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Jun 18 2018, 7:25pm

Image: US Department of Homeland Security

Over the past week, public outcry has exploded over how American border police forcibly separate asylum seekers and their children entering the country. Monday, President Donald Trump doubled down on the controversial approach, and the uproar has also split Republicans.

Now, some of those in the tech sector that work with the country’s immigration law enforcement are distancing themselves from the policy. In a statement to Motherboard, Microsoft, which works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said it was “dismayed” by the separations.

“Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

“As a company Microsoft has worked for over 20 years to combine technology with the rule of law to ensure that children who are refugees and immigrants can remain with their parents,” it added. “We need to continue to build on this noble tradition rather than change course now. We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families.”

Microsoft did not answer a specific question on whether this policy would impact its contracts or work relationships with ICE at all.

To be clear, this statement only comes after Twitter users widely shared criticism of Microsoft, including highlighting how Microsoft previously pushed back against Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, while remaining mute on this latest issue.

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In a January blog post, Microsoft wrote that it was “proud” to support the work with ICE through some of its cloud products.

“ICE's decision to accelerate IT modernization using Azure Government will help them innovate faster while reducing the burden of legacy IT,” the blog post reads. “The agency is currently implementing transformative technologies for homeland security and public safety, and we're proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.”

But Monday, a Microsoft employee removed that blog post, before the company reinstated it, Buzzfeed reported. That removal “was a mistake,” the company told Buzzfeed in a statement.

On Sunday, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith wrote a post on LinkedIn, saying that Father’s Day is “a day for families to be together.”

Update: This piece has been updated to include more information regarding Microsoft's response.