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GitHub faces more resignations in light of ICE contract

Megan Rose Dickey

Microsoft-owned GitHub has been under intense scrutiny as of late for its $200,000 contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now, another employee, engineer Alice Goldfuss, has resigned.

In a tweet, Goldfuss said GitHub has a number of problems to address and that "ICE is only the latest."

Meanwhile, Vice reports at least five staffers quit today. These resignations come the same day as GitHub Universe, the company's big product conference. Ahead of the conference, Tech Workers Coalition protested the event, setting up a cage to represent where ICE detains children.

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Last month, GitHub staff engineer Sophie Haskins resigned, stating she was leaving because the company did not cancel its contract with ICE, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Last month, GitHub employees penned an open letter urging the company to stop working with ICE. That came following GitHub's announcement of a $500,000 donation to nonprofit organizations in support of "immigrant communities targeted by the current administration." In that announcement, GitHub CEO Nat Friedman said ICE's purchase was made through one of GitHub's reseller partners and said the deal is not "financially material" for the company. Friedman also pointed out that ICE is responsible for more than immigration and detention facilities.

"[...] We recognize that ICE is responsible for both enforcing the US immigration policies with which we passionately disagree, as well as policies that are critical to our society, such as fighting human trafficking," Friedman wrote. "We do not know the specific projects that the on-premises GitHub Enterprise Server license is being used with, but recognize it could be used in projects that support policies we both agree and disagree with."

But some employees were not persuaded by Friedman's words.

"We are not satisfied with GitHub’s now-public stance on this issue," GitHub employees wrote in an open letter. "GitHub has held a 'seat at the table' for over 2 years, as these illegal and dehumanizing policies have escalated, with little to show for it. Continuing to hold this contract does not improve our bargaining power with ICE. All it does is make us complicit in their widespread human rights abuses."

In response to that open letter, GitHub COO Erica Brescia said preventing ICE from using GitHub could "hurt the very people we all want to help," The Los Angeles Times reported last month. Still, employees are not letting up, as illustrated by the action this morning.

When reached for comment about GitHub's stance on its contract with ICE, GitHub directed me to its blog post from last month. TechCrunch has sent a follow-up note to see if the company will comment on the resignation.