Business

Microsoft urges Trump administration to change its policy separating families at border

Posted June 18, 2018 2:03 p.m. EDT

— Microsoft is calling on the Trump administration to change a "zero tolerance" immigration policy that is separating families at the US-Mexico border.

The company took a stand Monday after it was scrutinized for its working relationship with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency that is enforcing the policy. ICE uses Microsoft's cloud software Azure.

"Family unification has been a fundamental tenant of American policy and law since the end of World War II," the company said. "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. 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."

ICE isn't a new Microsoft client. In January, Microsoft published a blog post about ICE's use of Microsoft cloud software. The post was resurfaced on Monday.

In the blog post, Microsoft says its technology can help the agency, which is responsible for border control, customs, trade and immigration, "accelerate facial recognition and identification."

The government policy for processing undocumented immigrants sparked a weekend of headlines and accounts of crying children at immigration facilities. It has drawn massive amounts of criticism, including from some prominent Republicans.

After the Microsoft blog post resurfaced, the company was swept up in the firestorm, too.

On Monday morning, a Microsoft employee temporarily removed a passage about ICE from the blog post, which included language that said Microsoft is "proud to support" the agency's work. That section was later restored.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that an employee "briefly deleted the blog after seeing commentary in social media."

"This was a mistake and as soon as it was noticed the blog was reverted to previous language," the spokesperson said.

Other tech companies have been criticized for their working relationships with the government.

Amazon, for example, is under scrutiny for allowing local law enforcement to utilize its facial recognition technology due to concerns about mass surveillance. On Monday, some Amazon shareholders coauthored a letter pressuring Amazon to stop selling the technology to the government.