Palantir Technologies Is Creating a Vast Immigration Database

Above  A new Palantir Technologies system will help immigration officials discover targets and administer deportation cases against them. (Wikimedia Commons)

Palantir Technologies, a software company founded by Silicon Valley conservative Peter Thiel, has almost finished creating a $41 million program for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The new technology, called Investigative Case Management (ICM), will greatly help ICE and the Trump administration deport undocumented immigrants.

Palantir won the government contract in 2014 and is expected to complete the project this fall. Spencer Woodman at The Intercept explained:

ICM funding documents analyzed by The Intercept make clear that the system is far from a passive administrator of ICE’s case flow. ICM allows ICE agents to access a vast “ecosystem” of data to facilitate immigration officials in both discovering targets and then creating and administering cases against them. The system provides its users access to intelligence platforms maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and an array of other federal and private law enforcement entities. It can provide ICE agents access to information on a subject’s schooling, family relationships, employment information, phone records, immigration history, foreign exchange program status, personal connections, biometric traits, criminal records, and home and work addresses. …

Although ICM appears to have been originally conceived for use by ICE’s office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the system appears to be widely available to agents within ICE. Officers of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Office (ERO) — the U.S. government’s primary deportation force — access the system to gather information for both criminal and civil cases against immigrants, according to a June 2016 disclosure by the Department of Homeland Security, although ERO will use a separate system to manage its civil cases.

Woodman also warned that the technology could be used against U.S. citizens as well as undocumented immigrants:

Although ICE’s enforcement focuses overwhelmingly on immigrants, the ICM funding documents make clear the intelligence tool can also be aimed at U.S. citizens. “Citizenship can be established a variety of ways to include biographical and biometric system checks,” one document states. “U.S. Citizens are still subject to criminal prosecution and thus are a part of ICM.”

According to Woodman, Palantir likely will play a “prominent role” in helping ICE deport millions of undocumented immigrants under the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

“With its full deployment arriving just in time for the Trump transition, ICM appears well positioned to respond to a new set of demands being placed on ICE by a president elected on promises of deporting immigrants en masse,” Woodman wrote.

Read the full report here.