Money

Exclusive: AT&T Pulls ‘Stand for Equality’ Video Featuring Anti-ICE Congresswoman

Rep. Pramila Jayapal's office reached out to the company about its use of the congresswoman’s image without her consent after VICE reported on the video and AT&T's financial relationship with ICE.
October 21, 2019, 7:30pm
AT&T logo on left. Rep. Pramila Jayapal on right
Left: Diane Macdonald via Getty Images. Right: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images 

AT&T has pulled a pro-equality video from its website and YouTube page that featured a congresswoman who co-introduced legislation to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) after VICE noted her presence in the video in a story about the telecom company’s business ties to the federal agency.

The video, titled “We Stand for Equality with Our Words and Actions” on YouTube, was meant to illustrate AT&T’s “core company values,” which the video suggested include “inclusivity, diversity, equality." The video also featured people in “Refugees Welcome” T-shirts. In the first clip, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) could be seen on screen speaking at a rally, though her voice was muted under the video’s narration.

“Let’s go make that world,” the narrator said.

VICE referenced Jayapal’s appearance in the video this month while reporting that AT&T had made $14 million from its business ties to ICE this year alone. ICE spent the majority of the money on cellular data and telematic devices provided by AT&T.

Jayapal’s inclusion in the company's video was noteworthy, considering Jayapal has been one of the most vocal Democrats in Congress on issues related to ICE. When she first co-introduced legislation to eliminate the agency last year, Jayapal said the U.S. must figure out a way to enforce immigration laws “without cruelty and abuse.”

Do you work at ICE or one of the companies that works with them? We want to hear from you. Email Leila Ettachfini from a non-work computer at leila.ettachfini@vice.com.

Soon after VICE’s report, Jayapal’s office reached out to the company about its use of the congresswoman’s image, which the company included without Jayapal’s consent, one of Jayapal's aides told VICE.

AT&T responded by saying it would remove the video and upload a new version that did not feature Jayapal, the aide added.

AT&T has since made the video private on YouTube. Only those with special permissions can view it on the company’s website, although it is still embedded on a page dedicated to AT&T’s self-professed values. The text associated with the video remains there as well.

“Stand for equality,” it states. “Speak with your actions. Whatever a person’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability or other characteristic, we respect and value them. We know that building a greater understanding of our differences makes us stronger.”

AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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