On Wednesday, November 7th, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Board voted to divest from for-profit prison companies CoreCivic and GEO Group
CalSTRS’ decision puts mounting pressure on its sister fund, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), to follow suit and divest its holdings from CoreCivic and GEO Group.
New report pulls together all the extant pieces of the deportation machine and the information technology that fuels it, highlighting the roles of Amazon’s cloud storage and Palantir’s ICM and Falcon software, Forensic Logic’s Coplink data brokers Thomson Reuters and Vigilant Solutions, and biometrics company Gemalto, among others.
On October 16th, Berkeley’s City Council can approve the nation’s second Sanctuary Contracting Ordinance.
In May of 2018, Richmond became the first city in the country to prevent municipal contracts with companies that sell data to ICE. Now it is Berkeley’s turn as we try to build a region-wide resistance that will change the business decisions of companies.
Using public money to subsidize the high-tech hunting of immigrants is a choice and we can make another, better choice here in Northern California.
Sanctuary is not just a slogan.
Facebook Event: Deport ICE – Berkeley Sanctuary City Contracting Law
The CA Legislature sent two bills to Governor Brown that will stengethen sanctuary protections statewide.
The first, Senate Bill 349, will prevent arrests or detention for civil immigration violations from occurring at any California court, declaring such an action by ICE or any other federal agency to constitute contempt of court.
The second, Senate Bill 244, will protect documents given to the Department of Motor vehicles or California hospitals to establish identity or residence, from being shared with any third party, including ICE, without a subpoena, warrant or court order.
Both bills were authored by Senator Ricardo Lara. California governor Jerry Brown has until September 30 to enact them into law.
Reported by Laura Wadsworth at San Jose Inside
“Given my work and knowing the company’s role in law enforcement and surveillance, I can say they’re a bit of a creepy choice,” says Mike Katz-Lacabe, who founded the Center for Human Rights and Privacy.
Dozens of protesters who gathered outside Palantir’s Palo Alto headquarters last month voiced a similar sentiment, singling out the company’s $53 million “mission critical” contract with ICE, which dates back to the Obama administration but gained widespread attention under President Trump. They presented a letter to CEO Alex Karp demanding that he stop aiding federal efforts to deport millions of immigrants. The July 31 demonstration was part of a nationwide day of action—amplified on social media under the #WeWontBeComplicit hashtag—against businesses, schools and government entities linked to Trump’s deportation machine.
Read the full article here
“Mayor Kenney has terminated a controversial city contract that allows federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to access a key law-enforcement database, known as PARS, and use that information against undocumented, but otherwise law-abiding, immigrants in Philadelphia.
“I cannot in good conscience allow the agreement to continue,” the mayor said.”
Philly Inquirer Coverage – July 27, 201
Mayor Kenney has terminated a controversial city contract that allows federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to access a key law-enforcement database, known as PARS, and use that information against undocumented but otherwise law-abiding immigrants in Philadelphia.
“I cannot in good conscience allow the agreement to continue,” the mayor said.
The decision, announced Friday, follows months of consultation with community groups, lawyers and immigrant advocates, and weeks of tumultuous protests by anti-ICE demonstrators, who on Wednesday took over and held a City Hall stairway.
ICE officials said they were “deeply disappointed with the city’s decision and criticized it as “needlessly compromising public safety.”
“Despite these attempts to obstruct ICE’s lawful efforts to apprehend criminal aliens, the agency remains committed to its efforts to uphold public safety in the city of Philadelphia,” ICE said in a statement.
The agency was informed of the cancelation on Thursday, in an emailed letter from City Solicitor Marcel Pratt.
Kenney made his announcement at City Hall, in a ceremonial room that quickly became the scene of raucous applause and cheering by many of the pro-immigrant groups that have long insisted the PARS agreement needed to end.
Blanca Pacheco came to City Hall surrounded by children, all of whom, she said, now know that raising their voices can create change. “They’re part of the work,” said the assistant director of New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.
Kenney said the loud, public demands of Occupy ICE demonstrators — still encamped outside City Hall as he spoke — played little role in his thinking. Crucial to him was the city’s legal standing, affirmed after a federal court victory last month, and providing humane treatment of people who came here from other lands.
“All of us have ancestors who were once immigrants,” the mayor said, choking up. “All of us.”
PARS is an acronym for a real-time computer database of arrests, operated by the city of Philadelphia and shared via contract with ICE, the agency responsible for finding and deporting people who are in the country without documentation.
Kenney said he had grown increasingly concerned that ICE was using the database “in inappropriate ways,” including to conduct investigations of undocumented immigrants who had not broken any other laws. That sows fear and distrust in immigrant communities, he said, with the effect of discouraging crime victims and witnesses from coming forward and, in turn, making it harder for Philadelphia police to solve crimes.
Discussions with ICE officials did not allay those concerns, but confirmed them, Kenney said.
Specifically, city officials said, multiple considerations led to the decision to not renew the contract, which expires Aug. 31. According to the Kenney administration:
— At a July 18 meeting, ICE officials conceded that the agency’s use of PARS can result in immigration enforcement actions against city residents who have not been accused or convicted of a crime.
— ICE claimed it was impractical to adopt procedures that would prevent agents from arresting law-abiding residents for civil immigration violations when the agency acted on information found in PARS.
— Each day, ICE probes PARS to find people who were born outside the United States, then targets them for further investigation, even though the database does not list their immigration status.
— The agency produced no information to allay city officials’ concerns about the profiling of residents by race, ethnicity, or national origin. In a letter to the city, ICE officials denied any sort of profiling.
Three city entities rely on PARS — the District Attorney’s Office, the court system, and the Police Department, which is responsible to the mayor. In the past, consensus among the three allowed the agreement with ICE to continue. Now both District Attorney Larry Krasner and the mayor have withdrawn their consent, and the court system, officials say, has abstained.
PARS does not collect information on immigration status. But immigration advocates contend the database is still dangerous, because it notes country of origin and Social Security number — enough for ICE agents to undertake an investigation.
“Data and speed is the perfect combo for ICE to use Philly resources to hunt down immigrants,” Juntos spokesperson Miguel Andrade tweeted earlier this month.
Kenney has been outspoken in support of immigrants, including filing a federal “sanctuary city” lawsuit against the Trump administration over the right to limit police cooperation with ICE. Last month, a federal judge ruled for Philadelphia, saying the city’s refusal to help enforce immigration laws was based on policies that were reasonable, rational, and equitable.
The PARS matter has simmered since the weather turned warm.
This month, as many as 175 demonstrators massed outside the Philadelphia office of ICE at Eighth and Cherry Streets, calling for the agency to be abolished, for the family detention center in Berks County to be shut down, and for the city government to end the PARS agreement.
An Occupy ICE encampment that was forcibly removed from the ICE office environs quickly relocated to the east side of City Hall.
“PARS is over,” activist Deborah Rose shouted through a megaphone as the mayor spoke inside. “It’s done.”
The 33-year-old West Philadelphia protester then led about a dozen protesters out of the camp into the street for a victory lap around JFK Boulevard.
Others felt the enthusiasm. “It’s exciting that this movement has really pushed [the mayor] to recognize the issue and address it,” said Michelle Ziogas, 27, who has been at the camp since it formed in late June.
It appeared as if the protest camp, adorned with signs and flags, was about to disappear.
Rose said city officials told people they had 24 hours to clear the grounds.
Mayoral spokesperson Mike Dunn said the group was informed of the deadline two weeks ago. It has nothing to do with PARS, he said. The construction project that’s chewing up ground on the northeast end of City Hall will expand to the east side on Monday, and crews need time over the weekend to prepare the new location, he said.
Xelba Gutiérrez, 34, said a delegation of Occupy ICE demonstrators would keep their previously scheduled Friday afternoon meeting with the mayor. “We’re going to discuss with him how, in the same way he needed time to make his decision, we need time to de-camp,” she said in Spanish.
In his letter notifying ICE field office Director Simona Flores of the termination, solicitor Pratt noted that the contract can be ended for any reason or no reason.
The decision is consistent with the administration’s “Welcoming City” policies, he wrote, “which reflect the principle that our city is safer, healthier and more inviting” when residents need not fear about their immigration status.
The PARS agreement “has created the false perception that the city is willing to be an extension of ICE,” he wrote.
Miriam Enriquez, the Kenney administration’s director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, called ending the PARS contract “the right decision.”
“Witnesses and victims of crime in our city will know they need not fear adverse immigration consequences when they report crimes or use services,” she said.
On July 24, Contra Costa County held a Trust Act forum on their county’s cooperation with ICE in 2017.
The full hearing with presentations and public comments is below with links to presentations from immigrant advocates and Contra Costa County sheriff David Livingston.
This week on CounterSpin: “As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border,” the global tech company declared in a statement. “Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II.” The same Microsoft bragged a few months ago about ICE’s use of its Azure cloud computing services to “accelerate facial recognition and identification” of immigrants, though the post has since been altered to omit the phrase “we’re proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.”
The spotlight on the White House’s inhumane agenda on immigration and immigrants is exposing more than the devastatingly cruel practices in force at the border, but also the numerous big corporate and institutional players that are—often invisibly—enabling that agenda. And just like the agenda, the impact of these collaborations extends well beyond immigrant communities. We’ll talk about all that with organizer/advocate Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-coordinator of Oakland Privacy.
As the primary election polls were starting to close, at a bit after 9pm Pacific on June 5, the Richmond City Council completed their second and ratifying vote on the Bay Area’s first Sanctuary City contracting ordinance, by a 5-1 vote.
The Sanctuary City contracting ordinance (template legislation is available on this website) allows cities and counties that are sanctuary jurisdictions to put their dollars where their mouths are, by ending municipal contracts and investments with ICE data brokers.
Richmond’s historic vote makes Richmond the first city in the United States to strengthen their sanctuary policy to exclude private parties providing information and vetting services to ICE.
Similar legislation is under consideration in Alameda, Berkeley and Oakland.