Immigration might not appear to be a tech difficulty. But for Americans with some private or household expertise with the concept of separated households and/or focus camps, it may be arduous to see what’s at present happening in our names due to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement company (higher generally known as “ICE”) as something lower than the only most pressing ethical or moral difficulty on this nation in the present day.
This begs a disclaimer: I’ve Eastern European Jewish household roots in what turned the Holocaust. I’ve a Cuban Jewish mom who got here to this nation by herself as a younger woman refugee and was separated from her household for a number of years as a consequence of U.S. immigration coverage.
I’m a father myself. This piece is private for me, in different phrases. If you need to know whether or not I may be goal right here, I must admit that seeing repeated pictures of 1000’s of kids, as younger as 4 months outdated, going through inhumane and abusive situations in my authorities’s title and supported by my tax {dollars}, has been fairly presumably essentially the most morally disturbing expertise of my life.
Still, on condition that I write particularly in regards to the ethics of expertise right here at TechSwitch, is that this subject “a fit” for this column? Well, “fortunately,” if not for me or any of us personally, then a minimum of relating to my want to write down up ICE for this column: the Silicon Valley tech trade has a protracted and deep historical past of entanglement with undocumented immigrants to this nation. And the truth is, “thanks” to tech corporations equivalent to Palantir, Wayfair, and Amazon Web Services and their present-day collaboration with ICE and its focus camps, tech and immigration ethics may be very a lot a stay subject for in the present day.
It’s additionally a disturbing and miserable subject. Which is why I’m hoping to supply some hope, by concentrating not solely on camps and detentions, however extra on a collection of progressive and impactful current protests, during which tech corporations performed main roles — each as objects of criticism in some circumstances and as useful sources for the critics in others.
First, let’s concentrate on Palantir. As Manish Singh wrote in TechSwitch in May, “Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents, obtained by advocacy organization Mijente through Freedom of Information Act litigation, note that agents of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations used Palantir’s software to build profiles of immigrant children and their family members for the prosecution and arrest of any undocumented person they encountered in their investigation.”
In different phrases, together with beds from multibillion-dollar furnishings unicorn Wayfair, and website hosting from Amazon, the Peter Theil-funded Palo Alto software program energy is making this nation’s showdown over immigration actively in regards to the tech world, and this Monday, July 8, a whole bunch of protestors went to Palantir’s places of work as a part of every week of coordinated actions nationwide.

As Mijente campaigns director Priscilla Gonzalez instructed me, “We noticed the escalation of ICE operations, their invasions of homes, workplaces, and communities, and we began investigating just how people were being monitored and tracked like never before.”
Gonzalez continued, “We found that Palantir’s software allows ICE agents to build profiles of undocumented immigrants filled with personal information like their home address, work address, financial information, social media profile, and more. Palantir is the reason ICE has been able to accelerate its operations, conduct mass raids and rip families and communities apart.”
While it stays to be seen whether or not such protests will persuade Palantir to drop their contracts with ICE, what is obvious is that the development of staging vital protests in opposition to such establishments is barely going to develop, as an increasing number of grassroots teams, college students, tech staff, religion leaders, elected officers, and others unite to carry them accountable.
Which brings me to my interview for this week.
A number of days earlier than the Palantir protest, and fewer than every week after an worker walkout from the Boston headquarters of Wayfair additionally drew a whole bunch of staff and supporters, one other main ICE protest came about in Boston. This time, on July 2nd, it was a gaggle of Jewish activists collaborating with Movimiento Cosecha, a company representing undocumented immigrants.
Echoing one more protest only a day earlier during which 36 Jewish activists had been arrested whereas protesting an ICE facility in New Jersey, whereas carrying banners imploring “Never Again Para Nadie” (for nobody), in Boston 18 protestors had been arrested in related vogue (multiples of 18 are culturally and religiously vital in Jewish custom). While the Boston protest was not particularly tied to the tech trade, it was a transferring — and telling — instance of what tech corporations would possibly start to count on in the event that they proceed involvement with ICE.
One of the arrestees within the Boston protest, furthermore, was somebody I had already been hoping to interview for this column — the nationally famend sexual ethicist, writer, and activist Jaclyn Friedman. As you will note under, Friedman has quite a bit to say in regards to the intersection of intercourse, ethics, and tech. She insisted, nonetheless, that this interview focus nearly solely on the ICE protest and the moral points behind it. I feel the ensuing dialog was highly effective and academic.

Greg Epstein: I do know you thru your work as an professional in sexual ethics, and I’ve been desirous to interview you about work you’ve accomplished on the intersection of intercourse, ethics, and tech. But then I noticed you’d participated on this — what I feel might have been a landmark protest — and I needed to speak with you about it. Given your background, what led you to taking part on this protest?
Jaclyn Friedman: I actually can and can make connections between what we simply did with the Jews Against Ice motion [and] sexual ethics, however I truthfully simply got here to it as a human particular person, and as a Jew who’s simply panicked and outraged, and felt a powerful have to do one thing extra. This motion appealed to me as a Jew, as a result of my activism stems from my Judaism.
That’s the place I realized about social justice, the place I get the fireplace in my stomach, each when it comes to Jewish teachings about tikkun olam, in addition to, it simply occurred the Temple I grew up in was led by the primary lady ordained within the trendy period, Sally Priesand. [She] was, earlier than I even knew the phrase feminism, my first feminist function mannequin.
But additionally clearly the US is operating focus camps, and it’s unattainable for me to not take that personally as a Jew. It actually has the whole lot to do with my work on sexual ethics which is functionally work about bodily autonomy.
If you’re speaking about mass incarceration, that’s a problem about bodily autonomy. If you’re speaking about focus camps, it’s actually a problem about bodily autonomy, and that’s even earlier than we begin speaking in regards to the quantity of sexual assault and molestation that has been allowed to be perpetrated by the parents who’re operating these detention camps.

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