Staff revolt causes Hootsuite to cancel deal with ICE

An internal uproad from staffers has caused Vancouver social media company to cancel contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

VANCOUVER, BC., April 30, 2019 -- Media are reporting that Hootsuite, the Vancouver-based social media management company, has laid off more than 100 employees in Vancouver, BC., April 30, 2019. (NICK PROCAYLO/PostMedia) 00057237A ORG XMIT: 00057237A [PNG Merlin Archive]

ICE, formed in 2003 in the wake of the 911 terrorists attacks, is in charge of then enforcement — arrest, detainment and deportation — of illegal immigrants residing inside the United States.

After President Donald Trump signed an executive order in 2017 that gave the agency sweeping authority to detain unauthorized immigrants, including those without criminal records, ICE arrests  rose by 30 per cent in fiscal 2017, according to the Pew Research Centre.

The non-partisan Washington-based think-tank said arrests also went up in 2018 but then decreased in 2019, “and remain far lower than during President Barack Obama’s first term in office.”

The National Immigration Law Center charged that Trump’s executive order encouraged the use of racial profiling by both ICE and local law officials.

After launching from a Downtown Eastside office in 2008, Hootsuite has grown to a global digital services company that employs more than 1,500 people.

The company has managed online accounts for many top companies including HBO and The Gap.

One of Hootsuite’s highest profile clients was Obama.

An internal uproar inside the offices of Hootsuite has led the Vancouver-based social media platform to cancel a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Hootsuite CEO Tom Keiser said the company’s initial decision to work with the controversial U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency caused divisions within his company.

“Over the last 24 hours there has been a broad emotional and passionate reaction from our people and this has spurred additional dialog. We have heard the lived experiences from our people and the hurt they are feeling,” Keiser said in a statement.

“I, and the rest of the management team, share the concerns our people have expressed. As a result, we have decided not to proceed with the deal with ICE.”

Statement from Hootsuite CEO Tom Keiser. Photo by Twitter

The proposed three-year deal with ICE, reportedly worth $1.5 million, created a stir on social media Wednesday when a Hootsuite employee went public to denounce the partnership.

“That we are eagerly accepting money from an organization that is allegedly subjecting its female detainees to forced hysterectomies …  that tears families apart and destroys lives is devastating and disgusting in a way that I can’t effectively put into words,” Samantha Anderson, a product trainer at Hootsuite, wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread. “Even more heartbreaking is that multiple members of our Mexico City support team have relayed their personal experiences being targeted and harassed by ICE and our leadership team chose to push this deal through anyway.”

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