An immigrant rights groups helping migrant families separated at the border said Thursday that it turned down a $250,000 donation from Salesforce after the tech company refused to stop working with Customs and Border Protection, the agency that split up the parents and children in the first place.
Last month, more than 650 salesforce employees urged management to consider ending contracts to provide recruiting and communication tools to CBP after the Trump administration started separating undocumented families at the border. Several of Salesforce’s clients had a similar plea. Executives at the company refused, offering instead to donate $1 million to help families who had been split up at the border.
Salesforce notified RAICES, an organization that helps immigrants and refugees, on July 8 that it planned to donate $250,000. But the organization’s executive director, Jonathan Ryan, said it could not accept the money unless Salesforce committed to following its employees’ demands by canceling contracts with CBP.
“Pledging us a small portion of the money you make from CPB contracts will not distract us from your continuing support of this agency,” Ryan said in a letter to the company sent Monday and shared publicly on Thursday. “We will not be a beneficiary of your effort to buy your way out of ethical responsibility.”
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been outspoken on progressive causes. He told employees last month that he strongly opposed the separations, which President Donald Trump was forced to stop under court order and widespread public pressure.
But he also said Salesforce’s work with CBP, which began in March, was unrelated to the family separations and would continue.
“I’m opposed to separating children from their families at the border. It is immoral,” Benioff wrote Wednesday in a memo to Salesforce employees, Bloomberg News reported. “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.”
Salesforce declined to comment on the RAICES donation offer specifically but shared two tweets by Benioff on family separations.
A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on which other organizations Salesforce had given money to or planned to donate to. Benioff suggested in his July 7 tweet that the $1 million in donations had already been made.
Salesforce’s offer would have been the biggest single donation in the 30-year history of RAICES, according to the group.
Ryan said in his letter to Salesforce that its “software provides an operational backbone for the agency, and thus does directly support CBP in implementing its inhumane and immoral policies.”
“There is no way around this, and there is no room for hair splitting when children are being brutally torn away from parents, when a mother attempts suicide in an effort to get her children released, and when an 18 month old baby is separated from their mother in detention,” he wrote.
But RAICES isn’t hurting for cash. It recently raised more than $20 million in donations after a post encouraging contributions went viral on Facebook. The organization is using some of those funds to pay for bond of detained immigrant parents so they can be released to reunite with their children. Additional money will be used to help with transportation and access to services for families while they fight their court cases, its executive director told Texas Standard.