It’s not just Microsoft: lots of tech companies are quietly helping ICEJune 20, 2018
With child separations emerging as a growing crisis at the US border, government contracting has become more controversial than ever. All week, Microsoft has struggled with questions about its contracts with ICE, particularly a January agreement that CEO Satya Nadella defended as a standard IT support contract. On Tuesday, more than 100 employees signed a letter calling on Microsoft to cancel the contract, writing simply “we refuse to be complicit.”
Although Microsoft has captured the public’s attention, it’s far from the only big tech company currently working with ICE. Public records show tens of millions of dollars in contracts with branches of Dell, Motorola and HP, providing crucial hardware and other infrastructure for the agency. Those contracts have largely escaped the Microsoft backlash, in part because of their lower profile and in part because they were routed through dedicated government contracting divisions. Still, they show that if Microsoft does move to separate itself from federal immigration agencies, there will be plenty of tech companies waiting to take its place.
Many of the current contracts are simple IT services. Dell’s federal systems branch has over $22 million in active contracts with ICE, many of them software licenses and support for Microsoft products. The company did not respond to questions about its contracting policies.
Motorola is also a significant ICE contractor, primarily through its Motorola Solutions division. The company has more than $15 million in active contracts with the agency, primarily for radios and other tactical communications equipment. Motorola Solutions also makes body cameras for police agencies, and was listed earlier this month as a client of Amazon’s controversial facial recognition system, although there’s no indication that Amazon’s system was used in connection with ICE. Motorola did not respond to questions about its contracting policies.
The largest tech-adjacent contract is a $76 million data center agreement made with HP Enterprise Services in June 2015, more than $42 million of which has already been awarded. The contract is currently being serviced by Perspecta, a company separated from a subsequent HPE spinoff earlier this month, but has been handled by various HP offshoots since the contract was signed.
“As a company, HPE is opposed to any policy that separates children from their families,” the company told The Verge, “and we urge the administration to change its policy in order to keep families together.”
HP’s consumer branch also emphasized the independence of both Perspecta and its HP Enterprise Services spinoff, as well as the company’s opposition to family separation policies. “HP does not support measures that discriminate against any group,” the company said in a statement. “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.” Perspecta did not respond to a request for comment.
CEOs from across the industry have called for the White House to stop the separations, including leaders from Apple, Google, Uber, and even Microsoft itself. Neither Motorola nor Dell has commented publicly on the practice. It remains to be seen whether either company will face any internal mobilization to curtail ICE-related contracts.