Challenging Corporate Complicity in Immigration Attacks


Source: Socialist Organizer

“Close the Camps, Reunite the Families, Never Again is Now.” These and many other chants defending immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are heard at almost daily actions in San Francisco called by community organizations, unions, and faith groups, including regular lunchtime protests at the San Francisco Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office as well as marches over the past two months.

While most protests focus on the federal government, on October 14, Indigenous Peoples Day, the “Tour of Shame” march, organized in response to the call for a day of action by the National Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps, focused on exposing and shaming corporate complicity with immigration policy. San Francisco, the U.S. West Coast financial center, is home to many corporate offices, among them tech industry giants like Google, Amazon, and Salesforce, the targets of this action.

Employees of these companies are organizing, even without union protection, to protest their employers’ complicity. A fact sheet about Salesforce circulated by “Tour of Shame” organizers cites a June letter to CEO Marc Benioff signed by more than 650 Salesforce workers exposing its contracts with Customs and Border Protection (CBP):

“We are particularly concerned about the use of Service Cloud to manage border activities… Given the inhumane separation of children from their parents currently taking place at the border, we believe that … Salesforce should reexamine our contractual relationship with CBP and speak out against its practices.”

Salesforce is also developing custom software for CBP. Benioff argues that these products are not used to separate families, as if they could be isolated from CBP’s actions.

In addition, some 1,500 Google workers signed a letter demanding that Google not do business with ICE, CBP, the US Citizen and immigrations Services (USCIS), which processes asylum claims, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) “until they stop engaging in human rights abuses. … We have only to look to IBM’s role working with the Nazis during the Holocaust to understand the role that technology can play in automating mass atrocity.”

Currently, Google has given CBP a free trial of Anthos, its new hybrid cloud software, and it has contracted cloud services to USCIS, whose director demanded no asylum to anyone who might need public services.

Amazon hosts Palantir on its cloud service to the tune of $600,000 a month. Palantir has a $38 million contract with ICE, and litigation has revealed that its software products are used directly to manage aspects of the arrest and deportation of immigrants and the breaking up of their families. Amazon also markets its dangerous facial recognition software to police departments, who could use it to identify immigrants to turn over to ICE. Some 500 Amazon workers have written a protest letter.

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