abolish ICE

The Special Relationship: American and British Students Protest ICE

University campuses across the UK and America came together to deliver a “day of action” and force pressure technology company Palantir to break its working relationship with America’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

abolish ICE
Protestors call for the end of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement [Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Over 15 universities taking part in the protests include prestigious organisations such as Berkely, Stanford and Yale University in the US as well as the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh in the UK. The universities aim to bring awareness to technology giant Palantir’s contracts with ICE.

Protestors state on their website: “Its [Palantir] software has been used in workplace raids like those in Mississippi, where some 680 people were arrested en masse, separating families and destroying communities.”

Students want to make it clear to Palantir their disgust at the company’s willingness to put profit over humanity, allowing ICE to carry out their terrorising raids on immigrant communities in America. A PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge’s Center of Development Studies, Matt Mahmoudi, focuses his research on the technological marginalisation in refugee and asylum-seeking communities. His message to Palantir was that they are unwelcome in academia for as long as their relationship with ICE continues.

It is heartening to see cross-Atlantic solidarity in the face of anti-immigrant hatred.

Palantir has invested money into campuses such as the University of Cambridge in order to build networking connections, joining Cambridge students as they look for new staff and offer talks at the school. Mahmoudi is clear in the protest’s goal: to “create an environment that established Palantir as a pariah”.

ICE has earnt its well-deserved reputation as an organisation of horror and cruelty. Their commitment to driving fear into the hearts of people who flee their home countries in desperation is devastating.

There seems to be no end to their hunger for targeting immigrant communities, including requesting records of children in a diverse elementary school in Nashville, where a majority of learners are children of immigrants and over 20 different languages are spoken at the school. ICE acting director Matthew Albence blamed terrified parents for being separated from children, claiming by “breaking the law” they place their children in a situation which separates them from their parents.

There is no attention paid to the Trump administration’s daily attempts to shut down people’s ability to apply for asylum, a legal, human right. With its acting director holding such cold, callous views of the world’s most marginalised individuals, it is not surprising that ICE shows such little regard or compassion for these people’s heart-breaking circumstances.

ICE has long been at the centre of controversy in the US [New York Times]

Students want to make it clear to Palantir their disgust at the company’s willingness to put profit over humanity.

Unfortunately, Palantir is not the only company working with ICE, just the most recent to be hit with protests. Marketplace giant Amazon faced protests in the summer with the Jewish community organising a demonstration to commemorate hateful acts carried out due to anti-Semitism and stand in solidarity with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Amazon allowed the Department of Homeland Security, including ICE, to use their web services as places to implement databases that can trace and hold immigrants.

It is heartening to see cross-Atlantic solidarity in the face of anti-immigrant hatred. As the Trump administration shows no sign of sympathy any time soon, it is not a stretch to foresee more protests against ICE injustices and companies who choose to work with them.