Salesforce employees press CEO to re-evaluate contract with border patrol

Salesforce employees press CEO to re-evaluate contract with border patrol
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Hundreds of Salesforce employees are putting pressure on company leadership to re-evaluate its contract with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) amid the increased focus on President TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE's hard-line immigration policies.

Workers at the cloud computing company sent a letter to CEO Marc Benioff, urging him to “re-examine” Salesforce’s relationship with the CBP and to “speak out against its practices.”

The workers said that they were particularly concerned about Salesforce tools aiding the agency’s involvement in the separation of children from families at the border.

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“We cannot cede responsibility for the use of the technology we create — particularly when we have reason to believe that it is being used to aid practices so irreconcilable to our values,” the workers wrote in their letter first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by The Hill.

According to a release from March, Salesforce is helping CBP "modernize its recruiting process" and "manage border activities."

The workers noted that even though Trump signed an executive order ending the family separation practice, they still took issue with the CBP contract.

“We recognize the explicit policy of separating children at the border has been stopped, but that simply returns us to a status quo of detaining children with their parents at the border,” they wrote. “We believe it is vital for Salesforce to stand up against both the practice that inspired this letter and any future attempts to merely make this destructive state of affairs more palatable.”

The letter, which has been circulating on the company’s internal messaging system since last week, is gaining steam. It has over 650 employee signatures, according to one source.

The organizers of the letter also met with the company's chief equality officer on Monday in response to the letter, according to the source.

A Salesforce spokesperson said that the company was not working with the CBP to separate families at the border nor, to its knowledge, were its services being used to do so.

A Salesforce spokesperson told The Hill that the company encourages employees to have these types of discussions and “will continue the conversation on this and other important matters.”

Salesforce is the latest Silicon Valley technology firm whose workers have mobilized in opposition to government contracts they find immoral. 

Last week Microsoft employees sent a letter to CEO Satya Nadella pushing the company to drop its $19.4 million contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also over concerns about the agency's treatment of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Amazon employees similarly asked CEO Jeff Bezos to stop selling the company's facial recognition software to law enforcement out of fear of hurting marginalized groups, as reported by The Hill. 

At the beginning of June, Google said it would drop its contract with the Pentagon for artificial intelligence tools to help military drone use.

Benioff has tried to position himself as a moral voice in Silicon Valley amid growing concern over ethics. He recently called for tech companies to back a new national privacy law following Facebook’s data privacy scandal with Cambridge Analytica.

With 650 signatures, Salesforce's letter appears to have caught on more than most of the letters. Sources familiar with the letters told The Hill that, as of last week, Microsoft's letter had garnered over 300 signatures and Amazon's over 100. 

Also unlike other letters, Salesforce employees didn't outright ask leadership to drop the contract, instead they pushed for a re-evaluation of the contract and the company to speak out against CBP. 

It's unclear if the workers would push Salesforce to scrap the contract after the reevaluation. 

— Updated at 10:48 p.m.