July 19, 2018 / 5:34 PM / 3 months ago

Immigration defense group rejects Salesforce.com donation

SAN FRANCISCO, July 19 (Reuters) - A leading nonprofit group helping immigrant families reunite at the U.S. border on Thursday rejected a $250,000 donation from Salesforce.com Inc in protest at the cloud-computing company's contract with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

The rejection by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services follows efforts by Salesforce.com to allay concerns among its employees about its involvement in enforcing policies of the Trump administration that have led children to be separated from their immigrant parents. The company has been seeking to donate $1 million to various causes.

Texas-based RAICES, a group of about 130 immigration defense lawyers and supporters, said it could not accept the money unless Salesforce.com dropped its contract with Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security's law enforcement agency.

"It's not acceptable to us that a corporation washes its hands of its sin by doling out a few tokens to those who work against it," RAICES Executive Director Jonathan Ryan told Reuters on Wednesday.

San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, which specializes in customer relationship management software for businesses, said that it respected the decision by RAICES.

A Salesforce spokeswoman declined to answer questions on the matter, referring to earlier comments by Chief Executive Marc Benioff that Salesforce.com does not work on separation of families.

The Salesforce contract with the government, announced in March, includes help with recruiting Customs and Border Protection employees and managing the agency's communications with the public. Activists have said the contract is worth about $40 million. Salesforce would neither confirm nor deny that figure.

The contract was inked before outrage erupted in June when it was revealed the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump had implemented its previously announced "zero tolerance" border policy, which separated many children from their immigrant parents caught crossing illegally from Mexico.

Subsequently, more than 600 Salesforce employees signed a petition asking the company to end the contract. Shortly after, the company announced its plan to donate $1 million.

Salesforce workers are the latest of several prominent tech companies, including Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc, to push their employers to ditch controversial federal contracts. (Reporting by Joseph Menn; editing by Grant McCool and Bill Rigby)

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