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By 20 June 2018 | Categories: news

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The separation of children on the southern US border has easily been the prevalent story in the news over the past week, as audio has surfaced of children, some as young as four, crying for their parents, with images showing a range of asylum seekers being kept in cages.

While international outrage has grown, technology leaders have added their voice to demand for the action – being described by the United Nations as a government sanctioned child abuse – to cease.

Cease and desist

Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, has called the policy “abhorrent,” “cruel” and “abusive.”

In a post on LinkedIn, he also answered concerns that Microsoft was aiding US Immigration Customs and Enforcement. He responded to recent calls by employees, for the company to sever the contract, elaborating that Microsoft is not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border.

Rather, he clarified, the company’s current cloud engagement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads.

Inhumane acts against the most vulnerable

Microsoft is not the only tech titan that voiced their reaction to the issue. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, who is in Ireland at present, was reported by The Irish Times as calling the practice “inhumane.”

He pointed out that children are the most vulnerable people in any society, noting that the images and audio emerging of their distress was heartbreaking. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, also weighed in on Twitter, urging the US government to “work together to find a better, more humane way that is reflective of our values as a nation.”

Bring them home

Perhaps the most direct statement came from AirBNB, with its founders releasing a joint statement that didn’t mince words: “Ripping children from the arms of their parents is heartless, cruel, immoral and counter to the American values of belonging. The US government needs to stop this injustice and reunite these families.”

That is not going to be an easy task. At present, there are close to 2000 children who are being held in these detention camps without their parents. A few days ago, the Department of Homeland security appeared intent on defending its actions.

Most recently, the US Congress appears to recognise action needs to be taken, but the House and Senate as yet cannot agree on how to address the issue and end the zero tolerance policy.

It is perhaps not without coincidence that a number of technology leaders are immigrants, or children of immigrants themselves, now leading companies that inarguably are changing the world.

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