ICE cold: Microsoft's GitHub wrings hands over US prez's Trump immigration ban plan
Yeah, about that contract you signed with Immigration and Customs Enforcement...
Microsoft-owned code shack, GitHub, wrung its hands at last night's news that US President Trump intends to temporarily halt immigration, unfortunately forgetting that the internet never ever forgets.
In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020
The source shed's policy orifice was quick to insist that the order would add "uncertainty and anguish for developers."
Immigrants have always been vital to the US economy and to GitHub. Potential exec order to “temporarily suspend immigration” adds uncertainty and anguish for developers, will slow recovery and hinder innovation. We need immigrants to get us through this & help us move forward.— GitHub Policy (@GitHubPolicy) April 21, 2020
Sadly, no amount of hand-wringing or hand-washing is going to remove some of the more unsightly ink from GitHub's, nor its parent Microsoft's, signing hand.
Commenters swiftly asked the question: if GitHub was so sure the country needed those immigrants and worried for their welfare then, er, why exactly was it working with the controversial Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency?
The Reg has asked the same question and will update when GitHub responds.
GitHub was hauled over the coals last October as a contract with ICE worth approximately $200k was renewed. At the time, CEO Nat Friedman indulged in similar handwringing, stating his disagreement with the current administration's immigration policies but heck, GitHub and Microsoft would still sell software to it because the duo would not know the specific projects that the on-premises GitHub Enterprise Server licence was being used for.
Employees at both Microsoft and GitHub were not impressed with the gyrations of their execs, penning letters and petitions asking the companies to tear up the ICE contracts. Microsoft's involvement also came under fire in 2018 as some of the more abhorrent policies implemented by the immigration agency surfaced.
Back then CEO Satya Nadella, himself the self-professed product of an "enlightened immigration policy", insisted that Microsoft was only "supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads."
The current US administration seems to have a bit of thing about immigration.
Microsoft, GitHub staff tell Satya Nadella: It's time to ice ICE, baby. Rip up those tech contractsREAD MORE
A recent study pointed out that a large chunk of President Trump's Executive Orders (EO) and proclamations were concerned with restricting the admission of immigrants and tightening up US border controls. The study went on to highlight that the immigration obsession is up on his predecessors, with approximately 8 per cent of President Trump's EOs concerned with immigration compared to around 1 per cent since 1945.
The exact content of the latest emission from the EO orifice is unclear. Expected to be signed today, it appears to consist of a 60-day pause on people seeking permanent residence (and a green card) rather than applying to temporary workers.
In addition, pandemic restrictions already in place might render the whole thing a tad symbolic, according to CNN.
Heaven forbid that a tweet from the Presidential thumb might be a tad misleading or ill thought through.
Despite the frequent emissions on the topic of immigrants by President Trump and his staff, GitHub seems strangely reluctant to distance itself while still insisting that "We need immigrants to get us through this."
If it is unwilling or unable to sever ties with ICE, we'd advise it might be better for the company to avoid commenting on the matter.
After all, the internet never forgives, and it never forgets. ®