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Advocacy Groups Representing More Than 7 Million People Turn Up Pressure On Microsoft To Cancel Contract With ICE

NEW YORK - 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.

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.

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, and The Nation.

Leaders from this coalition of organizations issued the following statements:

“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.”

“Microsoft is complicit in profiting from a violent and murderous mass incarceration and deportation scheme,” said Scott Roberts, Senior Campaign Director at Color Of Change which 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.”

Coworker.org has been conducting trainings and providing support for people in the tech industry who want to take action on workplace issues. Yana Calou of Coworker.org 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.”

“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.”

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