Atlanta, Friday, October 11, 2019 …..A diverse group representing families and youth participated in a National Day of Action to “Close the Concentration Camps” and to call for Amazon to cut ties with Palantir.
Palantir is a private data-mining firm co-founded by Trump adviser Peter Thiel. Their products are used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on immigrant families throughout the southeast. Thiel, the largest stockholder, owns12 % of the company which is valued at $20 billion upward.
“Amazon and Palantir continue to profit by keeping us under surveillance, storing our information and creating profiles of us for ICE. We will continue to fight to stop the systematic oppression, the creation of fear within our communities, and that these tech companies end their relationship with ICE once and for all,” Adelina Nicholls, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) Executive Director, said in a press statement.
Trump’s cruel immigration policy has escalated into an all-out white supremacist imperialist war against immigrants, slamming the door on refugees, and indigenous peoples, banning Muslims, tearing children from their parents’ arms and putting them in cages and concentration camps where they cry themselves to sleep, and also targeting black and brown people for violence and abuse.
Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy is an attempt to “Make American White Again” by not allowing any more brown or black people into the country.
Earlier this year in New York at an Amazon Web Services Summit, protesters played a recording of children crying as they were being ripped from their parents at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. Protesters demand that the company cuts ties with Trump’s deportation machine.
Many immigrants are being terrorized in their own communities, afraid to answer the door, take children to school, or go to work because of Trump’s racist policies.
“The contributions from companies like Amazon and Palantir have to be revealed as the aiding forces of the deportation machine that has wreaked havoc on families and entire communities,” Jennifer Garcia with La Gente de Cobb, said.
In 2017, an Intercept investigation found that Palantir’s Investigative Case Management (ICM) program pulled together data from federal and private law enforcement entities to create detailed profiles that were used to track immigrants. That data could include a person’s immigration history, family relationships, personal connections, addressed, phone records, biometric traits, and other information, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) technology review.
“Amazon and Palantir are both complicit in crimes against humanity…..we can no longer stay silent as our government along with the capitalist class ramp up this ethnic cleansing,” Alexander Hernandez, Chair of Immigrant Justice Working Group with Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists, said.
“It is a policy that is directed to hurt people of color and we see people profiteering off of these racist policies. Technology is being used to hurt people instead of helping people,” Hernandez said.
Palantir sells two tools to ICE the Investigative Case Management (ICM) and FALCON.
ICM is used at the border to investigate the families and sponsors of children who cross the border alone. ICM is fueling the mass surveillance and targeting of immigrants. It is designed to prevent children from joining families in the U.S. resulting in mass arrests.
During the first nine months of the Trump administration, ICE arrests increased by 42% compared with the same period in the previous year, as reported in the MIT tech review.
FALCON is used by agents leading workplace raids, which increased by 650% during Trump’s first year in office with thousands of people arrested every year for being undocumented.
FALCOM is a mobile app used in Mississippi when 700 people were arrested during the first day of school and leaving children without parents when they came home.
All that data and the algorithms powering ICM are now being migrated to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in their entirety. Palantir pays Amazon approximately $600,000 a month for the use of its servers.
“Palantir is a company that profits from suffering and Amazon’s servers make this possible by storing all our information. These companies need to cancel their contract with ICE and stop preying on families. If they don’t stop their collaboration the people united will make it stop. We will show our power and show that our votes matter. We will not tolerate more injustice, hatred, and families being torn apart,” Geovani Serrano a community organizer with GLAHR, said.
These technology companies recruit at career fairs from college campus.
On some college campuses, educational campaigns are making students aware of the liability of creating technology that has negative impacts downstream on society and is especially harmful to immigrants. Over 30 campuses nationwide have thousands of signatures from computer science students and people in the recruitment pipeline of Palantir to not work for Palantir.
A lot of college campuses have been successful in getting Palantir kicked out of career fairs. U.C. Berkeley dropped Palantir as a sponsor and Lesbians Who Tech dropped Palantir as a sponsor of its annual conference, citing its work for immigration enforcement.
“We were not successful in doing that [at Georgia Tech] but we were able to educate people within the line of Palantir at the career fair. A lot of people stepped out of the Palantir recruitment line once they were aware and were directed to our notechforice.com/gatech,” Eric Gross, Georgia Tech Ph.D. student, said.
“We must demand that Georgia Tech stands with the citizens of our city, our country, and our planet against abhorrent and unethical use and development of technologies for the sake of profit. This is a battle for the soul of our future,” Gross said.
Friday’s demonstration joins a growing demand for corporations like Palantir and Amazon to cut their ties with federal immigration agencies like ICE. These corporations need to take responsibility for the human damage their products have caused families by enforcing the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.
by Gloria Tatum