The authors of this article are current students at the University of St Andrews.
The opinions expressed in Viewpoint are not that of The Saint, but are the author’s own opinions.
On 16 October, Amazon and Palantir will be exhibiting at the Science and Technology Careers Fair. We must not to stand in line or work for Amazon and Palantir until they end their morally reprehensible relationship with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We believe all St Andrews students should do the same.
ICE separates families, cages children, and indefinitely detains refugees and asylum-seekers. Palantir provides ICE with critical case management and search and analysis software that is used to target undocumented persons and plan immigration raids. Mijente, a human rights organisation, characterises Palantir in a recent report as the “most prominent supporter of the deportation machine in Silicon Valley.” In that same report, they explain that Amazon is the backbone for Palantir’s enforcement tools: Palantir’s software runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS and Palantir have no positive obligation to provide their technologies to ICE. It’s within their power to say no. But they haven’t done that; they have made the active choice to be complicit in human rights abuses.
ICE wreaks havoc on immigrant communities, leaving fear, death, and separation in its wake. Right now, ICE is detaining upwards of 50,000 people in an increasingly lethal system of concentration camps—under the Trump administration, at least 26 people have already needlessly died.
As students of St Andrews, we take pride in the diversity of our community. Through the hard work of campus societies like Refugee Action St Andrews, the University has taken historic steps to ensure that asylum-seekers have equal access to a St Andrews education. From being the first university to host the Museum Without a Home to our numerous initiatives supporting refugee students, St Andrews has worked hard to cultivate an environment of inclusion, and compassion. We want our campus to be a safe place for all. Inviting Amazon and Palantir to our campus betrays our commitment to these values.
Borders do not impede the harmful repercussions of carceral violence. Xenophobia is rising on a global scale; as such, our solidarity with refugees and asylum-seekers cannot be anything but global. By refusing to work for Palantir and Amazon, our student body has the power to say that we won’t be complicit in the anti-immigrant violence happening in the United States.
Labour boycotts are a powerful, nonviolent tool that many of us have at our disposal. By refusing to work for Amazon and Palantir, we can pressure them into changing their policies. These tactics have worked before: Cloudflare, for example, in response to public pressure, ceased providing cybersecurity services to the Daily Stormer, an infamous neo-Nazi website. Pressure is already building: students at schools like Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Cambridge, Wellesley, and Georgia Tech have already pledged not to work for Amazon and Palantir unless they end their relationships with ICE. We believe St Andrews students should do the same. That’s why we started the Disrupt the Tech-Talent Pipeline petition, sent an open letter to the University, and are urging our fellow students to learn more.