- Rafael Soto-Marquez is an Oracle software engineer and one of the employees protesting founder Larry Ellison’s fundraising dinner for President Trump.
- He is a also an undocumented immigrant who was brought to the US when he was three. He’s been able to stay legally through DACA, the program meant to help children of undocumented immigrants, which the Trump administration wants to end.
“It was kind of a blow to the stomach,” he told Business Insider. “I was pretty upset about Larry’s position. His name is pretty much synonymous with Oracle. I think that it really puts, you know, just such a bad label on the company itself.”
- “I think it’s important for people like me to speak up even if their position is on the line,” he also said. “If Larry Ellison is free to voice his political opinion and promote someone who has really just terrible core values and is a threat to America, then I think that I should be free to tell my own story.”
One of the Oracle protest organizers, Monica McClurem, told Business Insider: “We felt compelled to speak out in dissent. We want to combat the perception of Oracle as a passive, defeated workforce.”
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Rafael Soto-Marquez is one of the Oracle employees protesting Larry Ellison’s planned fundraiser for President Donald Trump.
Soto-Marquez is supporting the protests launched by some Oracle employees who have called for a “log-off” protest against Ellison’s planned Trump fundraiser, where they will leave work at noon local time on Thursday to “spend time volunteering or donating to programs and efforts that aim to resist administration policies that go against Oracle’s Code of Conduct and Ethics policies.”
For the 27-year-old software engineer, joining this act of rebellion is personal. Soto is a “dreamer,” an undocumented immigrant appalled by Ellison’s embrace of a president known for comments about immigrants that have been called offensive and even racist.
“It was kind of a blow to the stomach,” Soto-Marquez told Business Insider. “I was pretty upset about Larry’s position. His name is pretty much synonymous with Oracle. I think that it really puts, you know, just such a bad label on the company itself.”
Trump is known for what many consider offensive, even racist, views against immigrants, once suggesting that most Mexicans are rapists.
“It’s seeing someone like Larry who’s supposed to lead the company and really put forth an example for everyone having such close ties with someone like Donald Trump,” Soto-Marquez said.
Oracle declined to comment for this story.
‘You don’t really know’
Soto-Marquez’s parents brought him to the US from Mexico when he was three.
“My dad worked as a laborer and my mom cleaned houses,” he said. “They were very poor in Mexico…I didn’t actually find out I was undocumented, I think, probably till I was 12. And at that point you don’t really know…what it means.”
Being undocumented meant a life of uncertainty as he was growing up. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, program changed that by allowing children of undocumented immigrants to be eligible to work and build a life in the US where they grew up.
DACA paved the way to a tech career for Soto-Marquez. He grew up in the Chicago area and earned a physics degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He worked as a research assistant and specialist before joining Oracle as an engineer five years ago.
He was planning to renew his DACA status this year. But the Trump administration has been trying to end the program, and the issue is now before the US Supreme Court.
‘My family very much depends on my financial stability’
Soto-Marquez said he’s aware that joining the Oracle protest and speaking out against Trump and Ellison is dangerous and could mean his job.
“I have to worry pretty much constantly about DACA, whether I’m going to be allowed to work,” he said. “And honestly, my family very much depends on my financial stability.”
But he can’t keep silent, he said.
“I think it’s important for people like me to speak up even if their position is on the line,” he said. “My whole life I’ve been told, keep your head down, listen to those into those above you and don’t really rock the boat.”
“If Larry Ellison is free to voice his political opinion and promote someone who has really just terrible core values and is a threat to America,” Soto-Marquez said, “then I think that I should be free to tell my own story.”
He said other Oracle employees are joining the protest for many other reasons. “I’ve really been moved by some of the conversations people were having.”
One of the protest leaders is Kiely Sweatt, director of innovation at Oracle’s applications consulting organization for North America.
This is “about ethics and morals,” she told Business insider.
“Some people might be too scared to speak up,” she said. “I’d take that risk to do it on their behalf even if it meant losing my job. When you work for a business that supports a dictator I’d imagine one questioning the health of that business and overall culture of well-being and inclusiveness of its employees at large.”
Another protest organizer, Monica McClurem, a senior copywriter, said she was “disgusted but not surprised” when she learned about the Trump fundraiser.
“Oracle and Larry Ellison have a history of privileging profit over people,” she told Business Insider. “We felt compelled to speak out in dissent. We want to combat the perception of Oracle as a passive, defeated workforce.”
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