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Peter Thiel’s Palantir is Powering Trump’s Immigration Agenda

Trump Holds Summit With Technology Industry LeadersTrump Holds Summit With Technology Industry Leaders
President-elect Donald Trump, Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, Inc., listen during a meeting with technology executives at Trump Tower, December 14, 2016 in New York City. Drew Angerer—Getty Images

A new report from The Intercept details a system, Investigative Case Management (ICM), created by Palantir Technologies to support investigations by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. The system is scheduled to reach full capacity this fall.

The system, developed through a $41 million contract awarded in 2014, is designed to help ICE agents identify illegal immigrants by collating data from a half-dozen law enforcement databases. By cross-referencing data from the FBI, ATF, DEA, and other entities, ICM can build a profile including a person’s job, background, schooling, relationships, address, criminal record, and other data.

ACLU privacy expert Jay Stanley told The Intercept that conclusions drawn using the ICM tools could be used to engineer the sort of mass deportations President Trump has promised.

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Though it’s vital to remember that this is an Obama-era program, the alignment of Trump’s biggest campaign promise and Palantir’s monitoring technology must feel like a dream come true for company founder Peter Thiel. Thiel was far and away the most prominent tech leader to support Trump, speaking before Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention and weathering intense criticism from a Silicon Valley cohort mostly hostile to Trump.

Thiel last year cited a concern for the economic fate of average Americans as the foundation for his support for Trump. Trump’s promise to deport illegal immigrants in huge numbers is in part motivated by the belief that their presence helps drive down wages for working Americans.

Though the ICM contract award is publicly documented, it is not the only intelligence system spearheaded by Palantir that supports Trump’s immigration goals. Palantir has also, according to documents unearthed last year, produced a related system called the Analytic Framework for Intelligence for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to experts, that system plays a role in vetting legal immigrants, visitors, and refugees.