At least 5 employees resign from GitHub, citing ICE contract

A flood of employee resignations and last-minute speaker drops marked GitHub’s annual tech product conference, which is scheduled to conclude Thursday. At least five employees have reportedly left in part due to the company’s controversial work with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

On Wednesday, GitHub engineer Alice Goldfuss announced in a series of tweets that she was resigning and implied the decision was related to GitHub’s ties with ICE.

“GitHub has a lot of problems it needs to address. ICE is only the latest,” she wrote. Goldfuss did not respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comments.

She was applauded online for taking a stance.

Goldfuss wasn’t the only one. At least five GitHub employees resigned in the buildup to the annual event, GitHub Universe, VICE reported on Wednesday. 

“All five cited the ICE contract and management’s handling thereof in their resignations,” a GitHub employee, who isn’t named in the report, told VICE. 

GitHub’s decision to renew a $200,000 contract with the border security agency, known for separating immigrant children from their families at the border, received widespread criticism within the company in October. 

GitHub CEO Nat Friedman has defended the move, saying the software company has no “professional service” with ICE but lets the agency purchase a server license. Friedman condemned ICE’s policies and announced that the company would pay $500,000 to organizations working in immigrant justice and helping families that have been separated by ICE. 

GitHub employees, however, remain wary of any work to do with the agency. 

Sophie Haskins, who VICE identifies as the first employee to quit GitHub over its work with ICE, resigned on Nov. 1, a few weeks after Friedman’s announcement.   

“Doing business with ICE is not okay,” she wrote, acknowledging that certain privileges allowed her to take that stance. 

Beyond employees, people also dropped out from speaking at the GitHub event. 

Lily Dart, a British product researcher, was scheduled to speak at a GitHub event in London next week but announced on Tuesday that she was pulling out.

“Given their position with ICE I don’t feel comfortable promoting them,” she wrote. 

Ada Rose Cannon, a developer advocate at Samsung, also announced she would be withdrawing from the GitHub Universe conference.

“I felt supported because my team puts ethics as top priority in everything we do,” she wrote, adding that they even offered GitHub the opportunity to hold a discussion on the intersection of ethics and developers, but the organizers “decided withdrawing from the event would be the best option.”

On Wednesday, many GitHub employees organized to protest before Friedman’s speech with a makeshift cage outside the event to demonstrate the cruelty of ICE:

It’s not clear to what extent GitHub’s employees’ grievances were addressed at the event. The Daily Dot has reached out to the company.

READ MORE:

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque