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Salesforce CEO Says It Won't Sever Ties With Customs and Border Protection

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Earlier this week, news broke that hundreds of employees at Salesforce had signed an open letter to CEO Marc Benioff protesting the company’s relationship to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, one of the government agencies enforcing President Donald Trump’s much-maligned “zero tolerance” immigration policy that resulted in authorities cruelly separating thousands of children from their parents at the U.S.–Mexico border.

The employees wrote that by providing CBP with Salesforce products for recruitment and managing “border activities,” company may have become “complicit in the inhumane treatment of vulnerable people.” On Wednesday, Benioff responded—and it wasn’t in the affirmative.


According to Bloomberg, Benioff, who is on vacation, penned a memo to staff saying that while he was personally opposed to the policy, Salesforce products were not directly involved in the family separations and the company would not terminate its relationship with CBP:

“I’m opposed to separating children from their families at the border. It is immoral,” Benioff wrote Wednesday in a memo to Salesforce employees obtained by Bloomberg News. “I have personally financially supported legal groups helping families at the border. I also wrote to the White House to encourage them to end this horrible situation.”


However, Salesforce did say on Wednesday it would pledge $1 million towards helping reunite the children and “match employee donations on the issue”:

Salesforce, which added the border agency as a customer in March, pledged $1 million on Wednesday to help families affected by the Trump administration policy. A federal judge Tuesday ordered the U.S. to reunite immigrant children who were separated from their families at border crossings.

“We support the U.S. government in taking urgent action to reunite children with their families at the border and have encouraged our employees who care about this cause to get involved by donating or volunteering,” Chief Operating Officer Keith Block said in a statement.

Employees at other tech companies including Microsoft and Amazon recently demanded their employers sever business relationships with other government agencies involved in the immigration crackdown, weeks after similar staff activism had successfully pressured Google into terminating its Project Maven drone-footage analysis contract with the Pentagon. Like Benioff, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella distanced the company from family separations and did not say it would cancel its contracts.

Last week, Trump signed an executive order supposedly putting a stop to the separations he began, though the White House didn’t have a plan to reunite the children with their relatives. On Tuesday night, federal courts ordered the Trump administration to begin the process of reuniting the families within 30 days, though the original policy was rolled out so recklessly federal agencies in charge of the process appear to be disastrously unprepared to undo their own mess. As the L.A. Times noted, neither of the agencies handling the detained families—Homeland Security and Health and Human Services—appear to have effective systems in place tracking the family relationships of those separated.


“Everyone seems to be very confused, not just the people who are being detained and imprisoned,” managing attorney Laura Lunn of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network in Colorado told Vice. “Across the board I haven’t heard anybody who has concrete next steps about how they will be reunited with their children.”