College Students Pledge to Forgo Jobs at Tech Company Working with ICE

Over 1,400 students from 17 US colleges and universities have launched a petition to not work for or use products from software company Palantir because of its ongoing business with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The student-led campaign called #NoTechForIce, has been signed by over 1,400 people. The student group also criticizes universities that have partnered with the company while it accepts contracts from ICE. The organization’s website specifically mentions the University of California, Berkeley, Brown University, Stanford University, MIT, and the University of Washington. For instance, the students note that Palantir contributes $20,000 a year to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley as part of its Corporate Access Program.

“Palantir has numerous college recruitment efforts, targeting computer science students and others they hope to hire at campuses across the country. As part of its recruitment strategy, Palantir has corporate partnership agreements with universities costing thousands of dollars a year, allowing the company special access to students via campus info sessions, career fairs, faculty advisors, and access to student resumes or projects,” the campaign website read.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division uses Palantir’s software to collect and sort information on a variety of people, including immigrants, The Hill reported. The company’s contract with ICE is set to expire this month, according to the publication.

The campaign website states that students have been protesting other companies with ties to their universities while maintaining contracts with ICE or Customs and Border Protection. During a career fair in September, Harvard students called on Amazon to stop hosting Palantir. Students are also working on conducting more protests, as well as panels and workshops so the universities can cut their ties with Palantir.

“Student groups at the 17 campuses represented here are planning panels, workshops, direct actions protests, flyering, and other means of cutting their schools’ ties to Palantir and other tech companies in the business of deportation, seeking to cut these financial ties and raise awareness of Silicon Valley’s role in facilitating the administration’s anti-immigration agenda,” the campaign website read.

In the letter, the students pledged to take a stand against tech companies by refusing to work for any company doing business with ICE.

“By signing this letter, you’re ensuring more students and more schools become involved in this effort. The recruitment pipeline is critical for tech companies. If more schools send the message to Palantir that they will not work with a company that works with ICE, its future growth will be imperiled and it will be pressured to change tack,” the petition read.

This is not the first time Palantir has been removed from outreach organizations and events for its involvement with ICE. In August, the LGBTQ tech organization, Lesbians Who Tech, confirmed to The Verge it had dropped Palantir’s sponsorship with them for its annual conference in New York in September.

“Members of our community (the LGBTQ community) contacted us with concern around Palantir’s participation with the job fair,” a representative from the organization told the publication, “because of the recent news that the company’s software has been used to aid ICE in effort to gather, store, and search for data on undocumented immigrants, and reportedly playing a role in workplace raids.”

Communities and organizations have previously protested against ICE and Customs and Border Protection. In August, a corrections officer from Rhode Island was placed on administrative leave after he was accused of driving into a crowd of demonstrators protesting to end immigrant detention. Officials at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility previously told The Providence Journal that Captain Thomas Woodworth had been identified as the officer on leave.

“Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility Warden Daniel Martin is also conducting a top to bottom review of the incident, Wyatt correctional officers’ response, and the Wyatt’s protocols regarding protest activities outside of the facility,” the statement read. “Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the independent investigation being conducted by the Rhode Island State Police and the Wyatt’s internal investigation.”

A video posted to Twitter by Never Again Action, an organization of Jewish organizers calling on government officials to end immigrant detention by ICE, shows Woodworth’s truck trying to drive into the parking lot of the detention center. Demonstrators can be seen trying to stop the truck before it drives into the crowd.

“Tonight we experienced a tiny sample of the violence ICE uses on our immigrant neighbors every day. An ICE guard drove his truck into our peaceful #JewsAgainstICE protest, then other guards came out and pepper sprayed the crowd,” the organization wrote on Twitter. “We’ll be back.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.