Documents made public this week after Freedom of Information Act requests by immigration groups specifically mentioned that Palantir software was used to store information about unaccompanied minors at the border.
(TNS) — A newly-released document appears to show that the United States used software made by Palantir in an operation in which immigrants crossing the border were arrested for deportation, contradicting the Silicon Valley data company’s previous denials about being involved in deportation operations.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement document, titled “Unaccompanied Alien Children Human Smuggling Disruption Initiative,” was among those made public this week after Freedom of Information Act requests by immigration groups. It specifically mentioned that Palantir software was used to place information about the arrival of unaccompanied minors at the border into an Investigative Case Management (ICM) system.
The Intercept reported in 2017 that Palantir developed ICM at the request of ICE.
Mijente, an immigration advocacy group that was not among those that requested the documents but which connected the dots based on its knowledge of Palantir’s technology, on Thursday urged the company to cancel its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — something it also did last year during a protest at the company’s headquarters.
“Mijente is also calling on investors not to invest in a company that played a key role in family separation,” the group said in a blog post, referring to Palantir’s expected upcoming initial public offering.
A Palantir spokeswoman said Thursday that the company would have no comment. Miijente said it had not tried to contact the company.
“Palantir has been unwilling to have conversations with us,” said Mijente spokeswoman Jacinta Gonzales Thursday.
Last fall, Mijente released a report titled “Who’s behind ICE? The tech and data companies fueling deportations.” In the report, the group expressed concern about “unprecedented levels of surveillance, detention and deportation” under the Trump administration. Mijente identified Palantir — co-founded by Peter Thiel, the most high-profile tech figure to support Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign — as one of the key companies at the “forefront” of those efforts.
Alex Karp, chief executive of Palantir, said in an interview with the New York Times last year that he and Thiel “did not vote for the same people.” The company, which was also backed by the CIA’s venture capital arm, has acknowledged contracts with the federal government. But a company statement to the New York Times in December took pains to point out that its ICE contract was with the division responsible for cross-border criminal investigations, not the division for enforcement and removals.
However, the 2017 document made public this week shows that the arrest and deportation operation, which yielded more than 400 arrests, was a joint operation between those two divisions.
“Palantir’s software was used throughout helping agents build profiles of immigrant children and their family members for the prosecution and arrest of any undocumented person they encountered in their investigation,” Mijente says in its blog post.
In addition, a 2016 privacy impact assessment by the Department of Homeland Security specifically states that ICM is used by the enforcement and removal division.
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