Whole Foods workers denounce Amazon ties to ICE

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A group of anonymous Whole Foods workers on Monday denounced their parent company Amazon’s ties to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The letter from Whole Foods workers is the latest activist push from within Amazon, where workers have been protesting their employer’s opaque relationship with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for more than a year.

{mosads}The bulk of the criticism has revolved around Amazon’s cloud-computing support for Palantir, the data analytics company that helps ICE track and target immigrants.

Whole Worker — the protest group of Whole Foods employees — is calling for Amazon to “cease all business with Palantir and any other company involved in the continued oppression of marginalized groups.”

“Palantir provides software that helps ICE in the deportation of undocumented people,” the group wrote. “Undocumented people must be welcomed with compassion and treated like the political and economic asylum seekers they are.”

A coalition of immigration groups have concluded that Amazon’s cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services, supports multiple immigration-related databases for the government.

For months, protesters from within and outside of the company have called on Amazon to cut all ties to ICE and DHS more broadly, pointing out programs like Palantir have helped facilitate the Trump administration’s punitive immigration policies.

Activists disrupted an Amazon Web Services conference in New York City last month over the concerns and police arrested dozens of protesters during an action at an Amazon store in Manhattan on Sunday.

Reports have also indicated Amazon tried to sell its embattled facial recognition technology, Rekognition, to ICE officials last year, setting off a wave of protests over whether the sensitive technology should land in the hands of immigration officials.

Amazon did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Tech workers have increasingly mobilized against their larger-than-life employers’ ties to the government over the past year. Amid employee protests, Google dropped its contract for Project Maven, an artificial intelligence project within the Department of Defense.

“We recognize that expecting a company built on the exploitation of marginalized people and the working class to cease its collaboration with ICE’s deportation machine by way of moral condemnations isn’t enough,” the Whole Worker wrote on Monday.

“Workers that control the levers inside Amazon must make this machine stop and turn in another direction,” the group continued. “Bodies inside this machine are being mangled as it tramples on our homes, destroying families and communities. If you have your hand on one of those levers, ask yourself what can you to stop it? What will your children think? What will that child separated from their parents think?”

“Peace to you,” the letter concluded, “if you’re willing to fight for it.”


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