College Kids Are Vowing Not to Work for Palantir Because of Its ICE Contracts

Hundreds of students across 17 different colleges have signed a petition.
September 16, 2019, 8:27pm
he logo of the data analysis company Palantir can be seen at the company's headquarters.

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.

More than 1,200 students at 17 universities across the country have pledged not to work for data and software services company Palantir because of its work with ICE and other federal immigration agencies.

“We the undersigned are pledging not to work at Palantir while it continues to do business with ICE,” reads the letter, which was published Monday. “We will not apply for jobs at Palantir, we will not interview for jobs at Palantir, and we will not accept jobs at Palantir while the company is engaged in the business of deportation.”

Palantir, co-founded by Peter Thiel, has provided the software behind ICE’s Investigative Case Management systems, which the agency has used to plan and carry out immigration arrests, since 2014. But under the Trump administration, the company has faced increased scrutiny for its work with immigration authorities, both from external protesters and from its own employees. Now, a new group — prospective employees — have joined the chorus of opponents.

The students’ letter points out that Palantir regularly recruits college students to join the company and that it has donated tens of thousands of dollars to elite universities across the country — including Stanford and MIT — in exchange for “special access to students via campus info sessions, career fairs, faculty advisors, and access to student resumes or projects.”

Last week, dozens of protesters rallied outside Palantir’s offices in New York and California, where they attempted to deliver a petition with more than 100,000 signatures calling on the company to pull out of its contract with ICE before it goes into effect on September 20.

The increased focus on Palantir is part of a larger strategy of calling out companies that do business with immigration agencies instead of going after the agencies themselves. Palantir isn’t the only target: Protesters staged a sit-in outside a Microsoft store in New York City the day after the Palantir protests, and another group of protesters was arrested during a sit-in at an Amazon store in August. Both companies provide software and other services to ICE, and Amazon’s ties to the immigration agency were a key part of the protests against Amazon’s planned “HQ2” office building in Queens, New York.

Some employees are also joining the opposition. Several Palantir employees confronted Alex Karp, the company’s CEO, over Palantir’s contracts with ICE in 2018. In August, more than 60 employees signed a petition asking the company to donate the profits from its ICE contracts to a nonprofit organization. Neither effort was successful.

Cover image: 10 May 2018, US, Palo Alto: The logo of the data analysis company Palantir can be seen at the company's headquarters. Photo by: Andrej Sokolow/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images