Topline: Amazon employees are renewing their calls for the company to cut ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, joining the flurry of protests that began last year when President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy caused family separations at the U.S./Mexico border. But even as employee protests have been increasing, only one—McKinsey & Company—has completely cut ties with ICE in response.
Tech workers have been at the forefront of the movement urging their employers to stop doing business with ICE. That may be because tech workers tend to be younger and more concerned with social impact than their older counterparts, said Jerry Davis, a professor of management at the University of Michigan.
Tech workers also have more leverage than those in other industries, Davis added, and therefore are more likely to protest.
“These are companies where employees have rare and valuable skills that are hard to recruit for,” he said. “These companies don’t have a lot of hard assets like factories or railroad cars, their assets are really their people and their intellectual property.”
Here are the companies that have faced internal employee protests for their connections to ICE:
Amazon/Palantir: Amazon employees are protesting the company’s support of Palantir, a data mining firm founded by Trump ally Peter Thiel. Palantir is an Amazon Web Services customer, and pays the Amazon for use of its cloud computing network.
Palantir’s software is used by ICE agents to start deportation proceedings. According to The Intercept, Palantir’s software pulls data from other government agencies, which is then used by ICE agents to investigate adults who want to sponsor unaccompanied children. And according to recent documents obtained by WNYC, a Palantir-built mobile app called FALCON Mobile, has been used in ICE workplace raids.
More than 500 employees have signed a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos urging him to drop Palantir as a customer.
Amazon executives in the past have avoided the question of whether it would kick Palantir off AWS, and in an email to Forbes, a spokesperson declined to directly acknowledge the question.
Salesforce: After Trump’s family separation policy created a national outcry last year, more than 650 employees sent a letter to CEO Marc Benioff calling on the company to cancel its contract with Customs and Border Protection, the federal law enforcement agency in charge of the U.S./Mexico border. Benioff is known for being outspoken about social causes, but he refused to end CBP’s contract because Salesforce’s software is being used for the agency’s recruiting efforts, not directly to separate families.
In the end, the protests caused Benioff to hire the first ever chief ethical and humane use officer, he said in a CNBC interview.
Wayfair: Nearly 550 employees at online furniture retailer Wayfair organized a walkout last month to protest the company’s refusal to stop sales to a government contractor supplying beds to a migrant detention facility, which are overcrowded, dirty and have been decried for violating human rights.
Wayfair co-founder Steve Conine said the company has a “duty not to be a discriminatory business” and is “not a political entity” when responding to employee concerns.
Microsoft: More than 500 employees signed an open letter on Microsoft’s internal message board last year protesting the company’s contract with ICE for data processing and some artificial intelligence services. The letter was also in response to family separations at the border and, much like Salesforce, the company defended its contract by saying that its services weren’t being used directly to separate families.
Deloitte: Employees at consulting firm Deloitte circulated a petition calling on the company to stop consulting for ICE, saying that have “moral objections,” according to the New York Times.
Daniel Helfrich, who leads Deloitte’s government practice, told employees in an email the firm’s work “does not directly or indirectly support the separation of families.”
McKinsey & Company: McKinsey & Company, a prominent management consulting firm, is the only high-profile company to sever all ties with ICE. The New York Times reported the $20 million deal prompted questions from both current and former employees.
Key Background: The protests are part of a growing movement among tech workers who are wary of the government use of technology. Employees at Amazon and Google have also spoken out against police departments using facial recognition and the military using artificial intelligence to analyze drone footage.
“It’s almost like watching the Arab Spring taking place in the corporate sector, especially the high tech sector,” Davis said.