GitHub defends contract with ICE in memo

GitHub defends contract with ICE in memo

Software development platform GitHub defended renewing its contract with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a company memo amid internal anger at the decision last week, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Employees submitted an open letter Oct. 9 asking the company to cancel its ICE contract, saying it made the Microsoft subsidiary “complicit in widespread human rights abuses.”

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Company leadership defended the decision, saying pulling out of the contract would not persuade the Trump administration to change its immigration policies, and the roughly $200,000 it made from the contract was not financially material.

“We have learned from a number of nonprofits and refugee advocates that one of the greatest challenges facing immigrants is a lack of technology at ICE and related agencies, resulting in lost case files, court date notifications not being delivered, or the wrong people being charged or deported,” read the companywide message, which went out Oct. 22 and was signed by Chief Operating Officer Erica Brescia and other leadership.

The company did not hold a planned Oct. 10 meeting at which leadership was slated to present the results of its quarterly anonymous employee survey. It also canceled an Oct. 11 companywide Q&A session.

After the cancellation of the Oct. 11 meeting, Brescia told employees not to speak publicly about internal company matters.

“We are all responsible for respecting and protecting internal, non-public information from being disclosed and protecting the privacy of fellow Hubbers as we engage in open dialogue on sensitive issues,” she wrote in an email, according to the Times.

Leadership told employees they would present the survey results at an Oct. 24 meeting, but the meeting ended up omitting any discussion of the survey, according to two employees. The company has since said it shared the results with employees, but not at the meeting.

Staff engineer Sophie Haskins resigned Monday, saying the company “showed no indications of canceling the contract,” and calling the lack of action “morally unacceptable.”

Microsoft has about $8 million worth of contracts with ICE overall.