Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now able to conduct mass scale deportations because of newly acquired technology that allows them to monitor and track people like never before.
A key piece of this technology is provided by the company Palantir.
Palantir has multi-million dollar contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that aid in human rights abuses, like family separation and deportations.
Mijente’s research shows that Palantir is key to Trump’s deportation machine. Earlier this year, documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request showed that Palantir’s software was used at the border to investigate and arrest the parents and sponsors of children who crossed the border alone.
When unaccompanied minors were taken into ICE custody, agents used Palantir softare to build profiles of these children and their families, arresting any undocumented people they came across in their investigations, including those who came forward to claim their children. At least 443 people were arrested in a three-month period using Palantir’s software in this way.
We’ve known that Palantir’s software is also used extensively by Homeland Security Investigations, the division of ICE responsible for workplace raids. Workplace raids involve ICE agents storming offices, factories, convenience stores, and other places where undocumented people work and arresting them en masse. Agents often enter these places, guns drawn, and tackle workers to the ground, rounding them up and hauling them off in buses.
In April this year, more than 280 people were arrested at a workplace raid in McAllen, Texas, the largest such raid in more than a decade. Under the Trump administration, arrests from workplace raids have shot up from 172 in 2017 to 1,525 in 2018.
Through Palantir contracts, ICE also has access to a nationwide license plate location database, which it uses to track and conduct surveillance of individuals and family members in order to arrest and deport immigrants.
Specifically, ICE uses location information to reconstruct an individual’s private life by tracking their vehicle’s movements, assembling a detailed portrait of their daily activity without meaningful safeguards and oversight and threatens the civil liberties and privacy of all drivers.
Palantir’s software is used, both in the office and in the field, by agents conducting these raids. Palantir allows ICE agents to build profiles of undocumented immigrants filled with personal information like their home address, work address, children’s school, financial information, social media profile, and more. All this information is at the fingertips of ICE agents responsible for mass deportations.
We can force Palantir to stop working with ICE. If enough of us continue putting pressure on the company, it will become less profitable to work with an agency like ICE than to drop its contracts.
The pressure is already working — academics have forced schools to drop their ties to Palantir, and journalist and activists around the world are decrying their work with deportations. Every signature helps us spread the word and keep pressure on the company.