ICE Just Renewed Its Contract With Palantir

Despite organized protests around the country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement just renewed its contract with Peter Thiel’s data aggregation and surveillance company.
Palantir pavilion and ICE officer.
Image: Palantir pavilion from Flickr and ICE officer from Wikimedia Commons.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement just renewed its contract with Palantir, a data aggregation company, despite protests from organizers demanding that the agency ends its relationship with the company, according to a document published to a government contract database Monday.

Since 2014, Palantir has provided the software that powers ICE’s Investigative Case Management System, which has been used to organize raids and deportations against undocumented people and build cases against them that can be used in court.


Per the new contract, ICE will continue to use Palantir’s system until at least September 5, 2020. After that, ICE can choose to renew it annually through 2021 and/or 2022. The new Palantir contract is worth $49,874,018.14. Representatives from Mijente, a a grassroots Latinx and Chicanx organizing group, told Motherboard that the public document was redacted improperly. If you copy and paste the redacted dollar amount, the number is visible.

"We condemn the renewal of the contract between Palantir and ICE," Mijente said in an email statement. "The company has chosen to ignore every voice speaking out against this and pursue a contract worth tens of millions, tying it closer to the Trump administration’s record of abuse."

Gotham, Palantir’s law enforcement software used by ICE, works by ingesting massive amounts of data, and then making all of that data organized and searchable. This transforms normally unstructured information into actionable intelligence, which can be used to find out extremely intimate information about targeted individuals.

Palantir developed a mobile version of its "FALCON" program, which was used to organize workplace raids and track down family members of undocumented immigrants in 2017, as reported by WNYC.

Conditions at migrant detention centers, which are managed by Customs and Border Protection, are notoriously dangerous and inhumane. Organizers have claimed that it is unjust for Palantir to "make money off of the trauma and suffering of migrants and asylum seekers."

As reported by Motherboard, Palantir is also used by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), a data fusion center that could share Palantir services with 300 police departments in California, home to about 7.9 million people.

Motherboard also reported that Palantir can offer agencies like the NCRIC a “perpetual license,” meaning that even after Palantir contract period expires, the agency can continue to use Palantir’s basic services.

In July, Motherboard published a Palantir user guide designed to be used by law enforcement. The guide shows that with a person’s name, police can also find that person's email address, phone numbers, current and previous addresses, bank accounts, social security number(s), business relationships, family relationships, and license information like height, weight, and eye color, as long as it's in the agency's database. If police have a name associated with a license plate, police can search automatic license plate reader data to find out where that person has been, and when exactly they were there.