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Lawmakers chide Google for hiring ex-DHS staffer who defended travel ban

Heads of House caucuses representing racial minorities object to hire of Miles Taylor, who defended Trump's ban on travelers from Muslim-majority nations.

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Congress members sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the company's hiring of a former DHS staffer.

James Martin/CNET

Members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter this week to Google CEO Sundar Pichai slamming the search giant's hiring of Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security official who'd publicly defended President Donald Trump's travel ban

The letter, dated Nov. 19, was signed by the chairs of three House caucuses representing racial minorities: Rep. Joaquin Castro of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Judy Chu of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, said they found Google's hiring of Taylor, who previously served as chief of staff to former DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, "deeply troubling." 

"We find it alarming when companies choose to reward and hire individuals that have played active roles in implementing cruel policies that target and hurt the communities we represent and Google is no exception," the letter reads. 

The letter comes as Google struggles with internal unrest from employees who've protested management when it comes to social issues. Google workers have spoken out against an artificial intelligence contract the company had with the Pentagon, Google's work in China, and leadership's handling of sexual assault allegations. 

Reached for comment about the letter, Google pointed to remarks made by Karan Bhatia, a vice president for government affairs, at an internal town hall meeting last month and published by The Washington Post. Bhatia said Taylor's work with Google would focus on counterterrorism and national security. "That's the role they will be playing with us, not in the immigration space," he said.

Still, the letter from Congress condemns Google's hiring of Taylor in September. The lawmakers said Taylor "oversaw the implementation" of the travel ban -- which barred people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US -- as well as the Trump administration's policy to separate families at the Mexican-American border. 

The lawmakers also pointed to previous statements and actions by Google leadership denouncing the Trump administration's immigration policies. When the travel ban was first enacted, in January 2017, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, an immigrant and refugee from Russia, joined protestors at San Francisco International Airport. The letter also references Pichai's reaction on Twitter to families being separated at the border. He called the situation "gut-wrenching" and called for a "more humane" solution. 

"This recent company hire appears to contradict Google's own moral and ethical values and completely disregards the concerns expressed by many of your employees and customers that value immigrants and human rights," the letter says.