Google is again confronted with an internal crisis because employees are asking managers' answers about how the company works with US immigration services. Employees have put pressure on management or the company will offer cloud services to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), fearing that their work could be used to drive Trump's administration policy.
But according to documents obtained by The edgesimilar deals are already available that show how lucrative and sustainable those similarities can be. In 2017, an external software provider signed a deal of nearly $ 750,000 to offer a Google cloud service to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.
The contract was obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request from the Mijente activist group, which has withdrawn from technology companies that collaborate with US immigration agencies. The document does not mention Google directly, but the contract offers a two-year license for Apigee Edge Private Cloud, part of a Google API & # 39; s management service. The contract was signed in September 2017, suggesting that the service is still in use.
Although USCIS is seen as the bureaucratic counterpart of agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP, which are responsible for managing asylum applications and related tasks, the agency is not without controversy. Earlier this month, following the announcement of a Trump policy that it would make it harder for poorer immigrants to become US citizens, acting director Ken Cuccinelli suggested change the sonnet etched on the Statue of Liberty to "give me your tired and your arms that can stand on their own two feet and that will not become a public indictment".
The agency has had to deal with a huge backlog in the processing of immigration under the Trump government, and it is accused to work more closely with ICE in recent years, including on deportation efforts. Last year, the agency silently changed its mission of securing "America & # 39; s promise as a nation of immigrants" to provide immigration benefits "while protecting Americans, securing the homeland and respecting our values." More recently, the agency has started refusal of medical deportation delay at an unprecedented rate, a sign of the more aggressive attitude of the agency under Cuccinelli.
Google and USCIS refused to answer details about the contract, including how the product was used. There is no evidence that the service was used in connection with child separation or other particularly controversial immigration policies. API management can be used to digitally process benefit claims or any number of simple bureaucratic services. But the contract points to a willingness to offer Google services to immigration agencies from the Trump era, an idea that some employees have vigorously protested.
USCIS, according to public reports, has also worked with other cloud services, including those from Amazon. Although the full scope of the work is not clear, Google also seems to offer some services to other immigration agencies. CBP recently noted that its "cloud environment" included services from Google, along with those from other technology companies, although the timing and scope of those services is unclear. Business insider reported last week that Google also allowed an exception to allow CBP to try out a cloud product for free, a clear sign that Google is continuing to work on CBP.
Within Google, employees have expressed concerns about whether the company will offer cloud services to CBP as part of an important contract. Say that Google & # 39; the infrastructure for massive atrocities & # 39; could offer Google employees a petition released demands that the company does not work with CBP or ICE. Around 1500 Google employees have since registered with the petition.
On Friday, Google unveiled new rules about workplace communication that employees could be concerned about that might suppress employee activism. "The idea that the discussion about whether Google is doing business with CBP and ICE is not related to their work is ridiculous," a former Google employee said after the new rules were revealed. (Google has replied that there are still ways for employees to express their concerns.)
Despite the pushback, employees are worried about how far Google has talked about potential work for CBP, according to people familiar with business discussions. So far, Google has refused to say what work it may have done for the project or potential plans for CBP in the future.
Google and USCIS refused to comment.