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Emails show that ICE uses Palantir technology to detain undocumented immigrants: WNYC report

Emails show that ICE uses Palantir technology to detain undocumented immigrants: WNYC report
[Photo: Flickr user U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]

The data-mining company Palantir has faced increasing scrutiny over its connection with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the raids on immigrant communities that the agency carries out. While Palantir has denied that its software directly enables workplace raids, ICE emails obtained by WNYC explicitly cite the agency’s use of Palantir technology.

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Before a planned spate of raids in New York City in 2017, an ICE supervisor sent an email to officers reminding the staff that they’re required to used a Palantir mobile program called FALCON when conducting the raids. FALCON aggregates a number of law-enforcement databases and enables an officer to comb through them to access a person’s immigration status, family information, and history of past border crossings, according to WNYC.

The email read, “[REDACTION] we want all the team leaders to utilize the FALCON mobile app on your GOV iphones,” after listing various raid sites across New York City. This directive was issued before ICE conducted raids at nearly 100 7-Elevens across the U.S.

Palantir did not respond to a request for comment; we will update if it issues a response.

In December 2018, Palantir told the New York TimesDealbook that Palantir technology is not used by the division of ICE responsible for carrying out the deportation and detention of undocumented immigrants. But former ICE employees told WNYC that Palantir’s technology played a critical role in enabling the agency to carry out workplace raids, like those conducted at the 7-Elevens in early 2018.

According to WNYC, ICE workplace raids led to 1,525 arrests over immigration status from October 2017 to October 2018.

Jacinta Gonzalez, field director for the immigrants’ rights group Mijente, told WNYC, “What these records show is that Palantir’s programs are being used in the field every day when ICE is conducting their raids.”

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