Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has penned a highly personal email on US immigration policy to all of the company’s staff, saying he is “appalled at the abhorrent policy” of separating immigrant children from their families at the southern border of the US.
The missive, published early this morning on his LinkedIn page, comes after an escalating row over the company’s contract with the US’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is enforcing the high-profile policy.
As first reported by Computer Business Review, a January 24 blog by the company’s General Manager Tom Keane, highlighted that the company was “proud” to support ICE, including with facial recognition and identification of immigrants.
The report drew an outcry on social media as the row over the controversial immigration policy in the US escalates.
The India-born CEO, emphasising his migrant roots, said: “This new policy implemented on the border is simply cruel and abusive, and we are standing for change”
He added: “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. Our current cloud engagement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads.”
He concluded: “America is a nation of immigrants, and we’re able to attract people from around the world to contribute to our economy, our communities and our companies. We are also a beacon of hope for those who need it the most. This is what makes America stronger. We will always stand for immigration policies that preserve every person’s dignity and human rights. That means standing with every immigrant who works at Microsoft and standing for change in the inhumane treatment of children at the U.S. border today.”
“A Company of Immigrants in a Nation of Immigrants”
The company’s President Brad Smith meanwhile penned a more detailed post about pending immigration bills, saying: “Microsoft is a company of immigrants in a nation of immigrants”, but adding that he recognised greater border security was needed.
“While we would not endorse every provision in the bill [Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018 proposed by House Republican leadership] relating to increased security, we recognize that stronger security is needed. There are parts of the border with Mexico where more U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents are needed and other security protections should be improved. I was struck when I visited a CBP command center near the border in March and saw agents relying on computing technology that I personally used almost a decade ago.”
He added: “We’ve made the protection of children in immigration proceedings one of Microsoft’s signature civic initiatives. In 2008 we co-founded one of the nation’s premier organizations focused on representing in immigration proceedings children that have been separated from their families, Kids in Need of Defense, or KIND. Its mission is to provide pro bono legal support for unaccompanied children, many of whom are fleeing some of the most dangerous countries in the world.”
“KIND’s goal is not to ensure that every child gets to stay in the United States. Rather it is to ensure that every child’s case is heard by an informed immigration judge, so those who are legally entitled to stay win the right to do so. When children lose their case and are deported, as they sometimes do, KIND works to encourage humanitarian provisions in a home country to take them back and keep them safe.”