Trump has been following through on one of the most dangerous “Law and Order” pieces of his agenda — targeting and criminalizing immigrants at all costs. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are planning to create tools that will make it easier to discriminate against and deport immigrants by searching through any social media posts, location tracking and all other manner of digital activity. And they’re recruiting tech companies to help them do this.
In July, IBM Corp attended an information session hosted by immigration enforcement officials to learn about helping develop software tools and programs that promote Trump’s agenda to invade the rights and privacy of immigrants.1 This surveillance program is all part of a white supremacist narrative that paints immigrants as violent and a threat to the U.S., with the ultimate goal to push people out.But if corporations refuse to build the tech Trump needs to carry out his administration’s dangerous attack on immigrants, we can protect thousands of immigrants and their families. In an attempt to make a quick buck, if IBM got this contract, it would be a devastating blow to countless families — affecting their freedom to live their lives.
For the past 11 months, the Trump administration has swiftly implemented numerous immigration policies that are clearly meant to discriminate against Black and Brown immigrants. One of Trump’s first actions, when he came to power, was to sign an executive order that punished sanctuary cities and other localities for refusing to comply with immigration officials by withholding federal funding.
And the Trump administration has tried and failed to implement three Muslim Bans that barred immigrants and refugees from Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. Raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in homes and workplaces increased in just the first two months of Trump’s time in office, ICE arrested over 21,000 people.2
In September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) a program that helped protect over 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. And now the Temporary Protected Status program, which has been in existence for nearly thirty years to protect asylum-seeking refugees from Haiti, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Nicaragua has been eliminated.3 This has led to immigrant communities living in fear and uncertainty.
But IBM is not staying true to its values and words. As a company that supposedly values diversity, inclusion and the contributions of immigrants, IBM’s refusal to step away from Trump’s Extreme Vetting Initiative runs counter to the many pro-immigrant actions they’ve taken. Right after the announcement of DACA ending, the company tweeted a statement of support standing by their “IBM #Dreamers”.4 Their CEO, Ginni Rometty, even flew to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress to save DACA. Yet IBM keeps aligning themselves with Trump. They were one of the companies that ignored pressure to resign from Trump’s Strategic and Policy Advisory Council following the Muslim Ban. They remained on the council despite Trump’s shameful response to the deadly neo-Nazi, white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA.5IBM only left after the council was disbanded. And now the company wants to lead the way in profiting off a vetting program that would subject immigrants to greater risk of deportation and prevent them from entering the United States. IBM should not call themselves pro-immigrant if they go through with contracting for this program.
This new Extreme Vetting Initiative is part of a long list of surveillance tactics that the Trump administration is using to get rid of any person who they think does not “belong.” From their new “Black Identity Extremist” classification to their efforts to reauthorize Section 702 – a secretive program that allows warrantless surveillance of our emails, texts, and online content – this administration is giving themselves all the tools they need to have a detrimental impact on the daily lives of all of us. No one should have their privacy exposed because of who they are or their country of origin. No one should have to prove they are a “good” immigrant. No one should be spied on. This is not safety, this is not justice.
Until justice is real,
Clarise, Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Anay, Enchanta, Malaya, Kristen, Katrese, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
1. “IBM urged to avoid working on ‘extreme vetting’ of U.S. immigrants,” Reuters, 11-16-2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/
2. “On immigration, Trump has plenty to show in 100 days,” CNN, 04-27-2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/
3. “Trump administration to end provisional residency protection for 60,000 Haitians,” Washington Post, 11-21-2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/
4. “IBM on DACA: ‘We Stand By Our Dreamers’,” Fortune, 09-05-2017 http://act.colorofchange.org/
5. “As Trump disbanded advisory groups, this is who was in and who was out,” CNBC News, 08-16-2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/