Tech firms profit on push to reduce immigration: study

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Major technology companies including Palantir, Microsoft and Amazon make millions of dollars annually from their contracts with U.S. immigration enforcement agencies, according to a new report.

Tech companies provide the digital backbone to tough immigration policies pushed by President Trump and carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and have helped expand their capabilities, says the paper by Mijente, an advocacy group for Latinx and Chicanx organizing.

{mosads}”Immigration enforcement is going to people’s homes now. More and more people have been asking us ‘how they did they know this was my address? It’s not on the record.’ Now companies like Palantir are building systems than scrape data and find information that wasn’t in the formal record before and enable anti-immigration policies in new ways,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, an organizer with Mijente.

The report found that Palantir’s ICE case management software, which helps the agency track, surveil and deport immigrants, has led to “dangerous acceleration of surveillance technology at the hands of police and prosecutors to target and build profiles of people,” which has helped fuel “discriminatory policing practices targeting people of color.”

The report also found that Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services, had become a “key contractor” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s cloud computing system. The company has more federal authorizations to hold government data than any other tech company, with Microsoft coming in a close second.

In many cases, Amazon has been able to build its vast pool of authorizations and contracts through its adroit lobbying efforts.

“We were able to expose that tech companies have been lobbying and setting themselves up to be in a place where they can kind of have these multi-billion dollar contracts with the government and have a monopoly in that arena,” Gonzalez said.

The report comes amid increased backlash from workers in the tech industry over the contracts with the government that their companies are taking on. Google said it would end its work with the Pentagon this year after heavy employee backlash after Gizmodo revealed the tech company’s contract to provide the agency with A.I. supporting military drone use.

Workers at Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce have protested their companies contracts with ICE and in Amazon’s case, its work with Palantir, which ICE often relies on.

Executives have dug their heels in though. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that his companies work with ICE doesn’t directly contribute to the separation of families and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said that the potential for technology being misused is not a reason to not sell it to border and law enforcement agencies.

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