From Yale to Cambridge University, Students Across America and Britain Join in Cross-Atlantic ICE Protest

University students at more than a dozen campuses across the U.S. and U.K. are joining forces in a cross-Atlantic "day of action" to pressure technology company Palantir to stop working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Students at at least 15 universities across the U.S.—including the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, Yale University, the University of Chicago, Brown University, Georgia Tech—and Britain—including the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh—are participating in the day-long #NoTechForICE protest to raise awareness around Palantir's relationship with ICE.

The big data software company, which was founded by President Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel, has faced growing scrutiny in recent years over its contracts with ICE, which have seen it provide the embattled agency with software since 2014.

"Palantir has two active contracts with ICE worth $92 million that have been called 'mission-critical' to the agency," organizers for the protest state on their website.

"Its software has been used in workplace raids like those in Mississippi, where some 680 people were arrested en masse, separating families and destroying communities," they added.

With one of those contracts up for renewal on November 27, organizers said they wanted to coordinate a cross-Atlantic effort to send their message to the technology firm.

Matt Mahmoudi, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge's Center of Development Studies whose research focuses on technological marginalization among refugees and asylum seekers, told Newsweek that he wanted to participate in the protest to send a clear message to Palantir that it is not welcome on campus as long as the company continues to work with ICE.

Palantir, he said, has paid thousands of dollars to campuses like Cambridge's in order to have access to the school's talent pool, with the company seeking out new potential hires at job fairs and participating in talks at the school.

"We're telling schools and students in particular to hold their universities to account," Mahmoudi said.

The goal, he said, is to "create an environment that establishes Palantir as a pariah"—at least until it agrees to end its contracts with ICE.

Just last week, the PhD student helped lead protests rallying against Palantir's presence at an on-campus recruitment fair.

Despite facing pressure from students to stop giving Palantir access to its talent pool, Mahmoudi said Cambridge University's computer sciences department has ignored protesters' requests.

"The department didn't even get back to students," he said. "That's been very discouraging."

Newsweek has contacted both The University of Cambridge and Palantir for comment for this article.

ICE
Activists march and rally against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the Trump administration's immigration policies, near the ICE offices in Federal Plaza, June 29, 2018 in New York City. Students across the U.S. and Britain are joining in a cross-Atlantic protest against ICE and Palantir's contracts with the company. Drew Angerer/Getty
From Yale to Cambridge University, Students Across America and Britain Join in Cross-Atlantic ICE Protest | World