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Tech Companies Push Back On Trump's Family Separations

“It’s heartbreaking to see the images and hear the sounds of the kids,” Tim Cook said.

Last updated on June 20, 2018, at 10:59 p.m. ET

Posted on June 19, 2018, at 4:10 p.m. ET

John Moore / Getty Images

Several of Silicon Valley’s top executives at its largest companies have spoken out against the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that separates migrant children from their parents at the border. Statements condemning the practice have poured out in the past few days, and many tech leaders have also encouraged people to donate to nonprofits that help support migrants and their families at the US border.

This isn’t Silicon Valley’s first dustup with the Trump administration on immigration. In January 2017, many of the same companies and CEOs pushed back on the administration's travel ban.

Here are the tech companies’ statements:

Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook had particularly strong words in an interview with the Irish Times:

“It’s heartbreaking to see the images and hear the sounds of the kids. Kids are the most vulnerable people in any society. I think that what’s happening is inhumane, it needs to stop,” said Cook, who leads the most valuable company in the world. “We’ve always felt everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. In this case, that’s not happening.”

Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg:

“Organizations like Texas Civil Rights Project and RAICES are doing great work helping families at the US border get legal advice and translation services, as well as documenting what is happening on the ground to make sure these stories are shared. I've donated to them and I encourage you to as well. We need to stop this policy right now.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:

“Listening to the cries of children separated from their parents is unbearable. The practice of family separation on our border needs to end now. We can't look away. How we treat those most vulnerable says a lot about who we are. Please consider supporting organizations like RAICES and Texas Civil Rights Project who are doing great work to help these families.”

Microsoft

Microsoft spokesperson:

"Microsoft is not working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, and contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose. 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."

Microsoft president Brad Smith also wrote about how the country "needs to get immigration right" on the company blog, and CEO Satya Nadella sent a letter to employees sharing his views on US immigration policy.

These actions, however, were in the wake of the company attracting scrutiny Monday when it briefly deleted, then replaced, a company blog that discussed how Microsoft’s Azure cloud software has a role in enabling the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] agency to deliver services like "[accelerating] facial recognition and identification."

Google

Google CEO Sundar Pichai:

The stories and images of families being separated at the border are gut-wrenching. Urging our government to work together to find a better, more humane way that is reflective of our values as a nation. #keepfamiliestogether

Airbnb

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky:

Ripping children from their parents’ arms is cruel. This policy must end.

Twitter

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey:

#KeepFamiliesTogether https://t.co/92cg9ByzXI

Donated to @RAICESTEXAS https://t.co/6BnfyTce5t

Uber

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi:

As a father, a citizen and an immigrant myself, the stories coming from our border break my heart. Families are the backbone of society. A policy that pulls them apart rather than building them up is immoral and just plain wrong. #KeepFamiliesTogether https://t.co/g2Cu40zvcX

Yelp

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:

I hope others from SF/Bay Area tech companies will join me at this march planned June 30. Please also consider donating to one of these great orgs assembled by @dahlialithwick & @mjschlanger: https://t.co/mSiMtgw9ga #FamiliesBelongTogether https://t.co/E5jXu4OSiv

Tesla

CEO Elon Musk tweeted Monday:

“I hope the kids are ok.” He also said he is “one of the top donors to the @ACLU." A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment further.

Lyft

Lyft CEO Logan Green:

We are taking action to help the families and children that are being unjustly separated at the border by offering Lyft Relief Rides to 12 organizations (including @RAICESTEXAS, @TXCivilRights,@supportKIND) #KeepFamiliesTogether

Lyft cofounder John Zimmer:

We are taking action to help the families and children that are being unjustly separated at the border by offering @Lyft Relief Rides to 12 organizations (including @RAICESTEXAS, @TXCivilRights, @supportKIND) #KeepFamiliesTogether

Twilio

Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson:

"Intentionally separating families is objectively wrong, and we must fight it vigorously. No matter what excuses are made, let’s call this what it is: collective punishment. The practice of punishing family members is not just morally offensive, it’s also a war crime under the Geneva Accord. We are punishing children for the possibility that their parents have committed a minor crime (a misdemeanor actually), or no crime at all — in the case of amnesty seekers. We are terrorizing people with a horror greater than losing your own life: losing your child."

You can read Lawson's full post on Medium.

eBay

eBay CEO Devin Wenig:

Enforce the border—-but do not separate families. America’s moral and ethical leadership is at stake. This needs to be fixed now.

Postmates

Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann:‏

Needlessly ripping families apart is cruel and undermines what this nation was founded upon. We must do more to #KeepFamiliesTogether. We must not let bursts of tears at the border fall on deaf ears. And we must rescind this policy now. Take action: https://t.co/N007KUL5Pv

BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti:

These stories break my heart. My grandmother was a refugee who told me the story of being briefly separated from her parents as she fled and the sheer terror of wondering if she’d ever see them again. The experience was still traumatizing as she shared it 60 years later.

Salesforce

When contacted on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Salesforce pointed BuzzFeed News to a Thursday tweet that referenced the New Testament from CEO Marc Benioff and other messages from company executives.

[37] Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. https://t.co/hSm3cUuwXZ

Simply horrifying. This has to stop. https://t.co/Rvtt4NdikK

HP Inc.

HP Inc. spokesperson:

"HP believes responsible and equitable trade and immigration policies are key drivers of growth and innovation for US companies. To remain competitive, we must maintain the ability to attract and hire the best talent from across the globe. Our workforce should be as diverse as the communities and customers we serve. HP does not support measures that discriminate against any group or limit our ability to hire the best for our business. We condemn the current practice of separating families at the border and call on the US government to stop the practice and reunite the families."

Mozilla

Mozilla COO Denelle Dixon:

"The cruelties Americans are witnessing today at our borders go far beyond disagreements over politics. As an American, and separately as a mother, I am horrified beyond measure by stories of children mercilessly separated, and kept apart from, their parents. The United States once championed human rights around the world. If we want to keep our humanity and the world’s respect, the Administration must stop this practice immediately."

IBM

IBM tweeted Wednesday:

We urge Congress to pass legislation to help #Dreamers, but the Administration doesn’t need to wait for an act of Congress to keep children with their families. #KeepFamiliesTogether #DACA https://t.co/svG2gaELNZ https://t.co/08IGEXvhq4

Pinterest

CEO Ben Silbermann:

"Children belong with their mothers and fathers. This should not be a political issue. It's about keeping families together."

A Pinterest employee also started a viral fundraiser to support the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and has raised nearly $12 million to reunite families.

Dropbox

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston tweeted Wednesday:

In honor of #WRD2018, I’m making a personal donation and @Dropbox is matching employee contributions to orgs like @supportKIND that fight for families & human rights. (2/2)

Amazon, Etsy, and Shopify declined to comment. Netflix, Snapchat, Oracle, and Palantir did not immediately comment.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.‏


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