Microsoft has issued a formal statement regarding the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) forcible separation of children and parents at the border. In it, the company condemned these actions and urged Congress to pass legislation against the practice.
The statement came in response to recent criticism for Microsoft's ongoing contract with ICE to develop and improve the Azure Government program for the agency's IT, cloud data, and other technology needs.
"We are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose [separation of families]," the statement reads. "As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border. Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II. 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."
The statement does not indicate that Microsoft will be discontinuing or altering its work with ICE or the U.S. Government as a result of these actions, nor will it further distance itself. Bloomberg reports that an online reference to this work was removed recently as criticism mounted, but was later restored and attributed to an employee acting out of turn. The official statement was issued shortly after.
The Bloomberg article also notes that Microsoft has $19.14 million in active ICE contracts.
Forcible separation of parents and children at the United States border began as a part of a Trump administration policy to deter illegal immigration. A recent count reported by NPR tallied almost 2,000 children separated from their parents in a six-week period and sent to shelters run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement across the country. Over 10,000 children currently reside in these shelters.