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McKinsey ends work for ICE, Thomson Reuters stands firm

Taking a different path from Thomson Reuters, the global management consultancy McKinsey has stopped working for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in response to anger among current and former employees over President Donald Trump's hardline stance on illegal immigration.

The New York Times reported that McKinsey’s managing partner Kevin Sneader told former employees in a note that the contract had “rightly” raised concerns. Sneader said McKinsey’s consultant work for ICE did not involve carrying out immigration policies, but that the firm “will not, under any circumstances, engage in any work, anywhere in the world, that advances or assists policies that are at odds with our values,” the newspaper reported.

McKinsey had earned $20 million from the contract, according to the report. Its decision to end the work stands in contrast to the position of Thomson Reuters, which is sticking with a $6.7 million contract that its Thomson Reuters Special Services unit has with ICE to track illegal aliens in the United States.

Last month, Kim Williams, chairman of the Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company which safeguards the Trust Principles, told Stephen Somerville, chairman of The Reuter Society, that it was satisfied that the editorial independence of Reuters is unaffected by the TRSS contract with ICE.

Somerville had written to Williams to make clear that Reuter Society members and readers of The Baron had serious concerns about potential damage to the reputation of Reuters as an independent news organisation and possible repercussions against Reuters journalists around the world. 

TRSS chief executive Stephen Rubley has defended the work, which he says is not associated with border patrols and the detention of illegal immigrants, including the separation of children from their parents - a tactic that sparked widespread outrage until Trump bowed to pressure and ordered it reversed. ■