Last year, consulting megafirm Accenture inked a nearly $300 million contract with Customs and Border Protection to help the agency recruit around 7,500 staffers over a period of five years. The tech industry’s complicity with CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—agencies widely criticized as helping enact President Trump’s nativist agenda—has led to widespread employee backlash, and now it’s Accenture’s turn, according to a petition provided to Gizmodo.
“Helping increase CPB’s ability to carry out torture and human rights abuse is unethical and immoral,” the petition reads. “It is also in clear violation of Accenture’s code of ethics, which commit ‘to build a more equal and inclusive society’ and to improve ‘millions of lives around the world, now and for the future.’” The petition’s existence was first reported by Bloomberg this morning, at which time it had only a few dozen signatories.
Similar letters of outrage have circulated within Amazon, Salesforce, Microsoft, and Google. At Google, specifically, concerted employee action led to the company choosing not to renew a Pentagon contract for an artificial intelligence system meant to analyze image captured by military drones, and an end to forced arbitration in sexual harassment cases and an improved misconduct reporting process. Amazon, on the other hand, took months to offer a limp response to employee complaints about the company’s relationship with ICE and other law enforcement agencies. It’s not yet clear which model Accenture will hew closer to in acting on this internal criticism.
“We welcome the feedback from our people and are aware of the posting on our internal blog site,” Stacy Jones, Accenture’s Managing Director of Corporate Marketing and Media Relations, told Gizmodo in an emailed statement. “An important part of our culture is that we encourage all our people to have a dialogue about issues that arise in the workplace and beyond.”
Read the full letter below:
To our leadership:
We ask that Accenture and Accenture Federal Services cancel all contracts with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Specifically, we ask you to cancel the $297m contract our company has with CBP to hire more CBP officers. Trump’s executive order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements called for hiring 7,500 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Accenture is currently providing CPB with the recruiting and processing capabilities necessary to fulfill this aggressive hiring agenda, which in turn gives CBP and ICE capacity to expand their inhumane policies. These include the internment of thousands of immigrant children, and the grave mistreatment of immigrant families. As we write, 13,000 children are currently detained and separated from their families. A pregnant woman was shackled, resulting in a miscarriage. Parents have been deported without their children, and adoption proceedings which will result in detained children being permanently separated from their families are being proposed, and long term mental trauma for the thousands of people directly impacted by CBP officers.
In September a CBP officer admitted killing 4 women in Laredo, Texas. These atrocious murders are not isolated incidents. According to the Southern Border Communities Coalition, border agents have killed 81 people since 2010. Border patrol and ICE agents have terrorized immigrant communities for decades.
Amnesty International has condemned CBP’s actions as “nothing short of torture” and in “flagrant violation of human rights” and “US obligations under refugee law.” Helping increase CPB’s ability to carry out torture and human rights abuse is unethical and immoral. It is also in clear violation of Accenture’s code of ethics, which commit “to build a more equal and inclusive society” and to improve “millions of lives around the world, now and for the future.” The technology we provide is sold in the name of efficiency, but all we see is technology supercharging inhumane and cruel policies.
Others have recognized the urgency of this situation, and taken action. In July, McKinsey cut ties with ICE, refusing to support CBP’s inhumane policies.
We cannot support CBP while it is engaged in these immoral and illegal activities. Our work directly strengthens CBP’s capacity to execute these policies. We ask that Accenture follow McKinsey’s lead, that it realize that any business with CBP at this time amounts to complicity. We joined Accenture because we want to work for a company that does good in the world, a company that helps vulnerable immigrants, not facilitates putting them into cages.
The moment to vocally reject these illegal and immoral actions is now. This begins with cancelling our contract with CBP and affirming our place on the right side of history.
Updated with statement from Accenture