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McKinsey Is No Longer Working With ICE, the Agency at the Heart of the Family Separations Scandal

July 10, 2018, 11:32 AM UTC

The consulting giant McKinsey has reportedly stopped working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE,) the contentious agency at the heart of the scandal around the separation of asylum-seeking children from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico.

According to the New York Times, McKinsey’s new managing partner, Kevin Sneader, wrote in a letter that the company “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.”

This was after McKinsey’s work with ICE, which apparently did not involve helping the agency carry out immigration policies, was exposed in a report last month. The company told the Times that the job was already finished.

By way of contrast, Microsoft (MSFT) and Salesforce (CRM) both refused to end their work with ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection over the scandal, despite the outrage of their employees.

What’s different with McKinsey? It might be the fact that the company is already trying to mop up another ethical mess, after it was caught up in a major corruption scandal in South Africa.

Sneader’s letter, apparently addressed to former employees, also addressed that scandal by apologizing to South Africa and saying McKinsey had come across “as arrogant or unaccountable.” He also said what happened in the country—McKinsey took on a corruption-linked company as a partner in a contract, for which the consultancy earned a massive fee—was “an unacceptable breakdown in our governance processes [that] should not have happened.”

The revelation of McKinsey’s work with ICE actually came in a Times piece about the South African debacle. The detail prompted “a lot of discussions and alumni reactions,” a former McKinsey partner told the paper.