Daily Management Review

New Report Claims Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda Helped US Tech Firms Make Millions


A new report claims the US immigration enforcement has allowed Silicon Valley technology giants such as Amazon, Palantir and Microsoft make millions.
According to a paper published by a coalition of immigrant rights groups, the money was is being made by supplying hardware and software to the immigration and other security agencies for surveillance, detention and deportation of individuals according to the anti-immigrant agenda of US president Donald Trump. Using the infrastructure provided by the tech companies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has managed to expand in reach. The business is going on unabated despite internal pressure on the companies to refrain from such business, the report claims. 
“During this time of continued escalated abuse by Ice and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we’ve been frustrated, scared and shocked by the level of secrecy around how many of these tech contracts are procured,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, an organizer with Mijente, one of the not-for-profit groups behind the report. “These technologies are being used in real time, and so many companies are profiting.”
Commissioned by Mijente, the National Immigration Project and the Immigrant Defense Project, the report was prepared by the research firm Empower LLC. It highlights the manner in which the tech companies pushed the government to adopt “cloud” data storage which in turn paved the way for the lucrative contracts and services and granting significant power to the Ice.
Over the last one year, there have been criticisms of the role of the tech companies within the US about how their platforms and products have been used to hasten the deportation agenda of Trump and aiding in recruitment of border patrol agents for the government and develop entirely new systems of border surveillance.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud services wing of Amazon.com, has come under fire for being boastful of its government contracts even as its billionaire founder and CEO Jeff Bezos desiring to portray himself as an ethical leader and a philanthropist. The report singled out AWS as the organization that is the key to the $6.8bn program of the DHS to shift information technology portfolio to the cloud. Amazon also assists the US government in areas such as maintaining government data across agencies and its role is greater than any other tech firm, claimed the report. The company’s services provides support for storage of data for immigration case management systems and biometric data of over 200m individuals form the DHS. According to DHS, Amazon helps it in data storage that helps it to “process more than 300,000 biometric transactions per day” and then make use of the stored data to “detect and prevent illegal entry” into the US.
 Report also identified the role of Palantir, a data-mining firm that is reportedly backed by the CIA and stressed on the role this form plays in case management and analytics for Ice. The company also provides software for the Homeland Security Investigations.
According to the report, Amazon and Microsoft also comprised the key players for a cloud computing caucus group that coordinated with the Congress to bring in a new legislation which altered federal IT acquisitions which in turn allowed Silicon Valley firms greater “influence over the contracting of its own services”.
“It is their ability to scale up enforcement and scale down due process – they are using technology for that,” said Gonzalez. “The workers inside of those companies [need] to see the consequences of what they are doing.”