Salesforce in fresh row over US immigration policy after $250,000 donation is rejected

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

20 Jul, 2018

Salesforce faces boycott fears for its work with the US Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) after a nonprofit immigration advocacy group rejected its $250,000 donation.

Less than a month after the company was criticised for its work with the CBP, company executives offered the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) a hefty donation – only for the Texas-based advocacy group to reject the money.

More than 650 Salesforce employees urged their CEO Mark Benioff in June to review the company’s involvement with CBP in light of its role in separating families at the border.

But the company defended its work with the agency, predominantly involving products such as Community Cloud and Service Cloud to modernise recruitment and engage with citizens, saying it was “not aware of any Salesforce services being used by CBP for this purpose”.

Benioff later confirmed the company would not be making any changes to its work with CBP, but would by committing $1 million to help families affected by the separation policy.

After pledging $250,000 to RAICES, the organisation said it would only accept the money if Salesforce cancelled its work with CBP. The immigration advocacy group told Salesforce that “when it comes to supporting oppressive, inhumane and illegal policies, we want to be clear: the only right action is to stop” in an email exchange seen by Gizmodo.

RAICES’ stance echoes that of 22 Salesforce customers who also this week called for the cloud computing company’s CEO to “cut your contract” in an open letter that stated donations are not enough.

“We are nonprofits, startups, and businesses that are Salesforce’s customers. The tools that Salesforce provides helps us achieve our mission,” the letter read.

“However, we are absolutely appalled that Salesforce is providing assistance to government agencies that are violating human rights. We cannot, in good conscience, ignore this issue.

“We have seen that Salesforce has spoken out against the government’s inhumane practice of separating and detaining children.

“We appreciate that and the donation they have pledged to make to affected families. But that is not enough. As long as Salesforce keeps its contracts with Customs and Border Protection, they are still enabling the agency to violate human rights.”

Cloud Pro approached Salesforce for comment but did not rely at the time of writing.