A tight crowd of a few hundred people packed in front of Amazon’s San Francisco downtown office Monday to protest the company’s technological cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A few of the signs read:
“A Prime example of exploitation.”
“A Prime example of racism.”
“Immigrants & workers are worth more than free 2-day shipping.”
Immigrants, allies and workers from the labor community chanted and rallied together during Amazon Prime Day, an unofficial annual consumer holiday where many items available through the tech company are offered at a discount.
One protester held a sign and a child. Many held cardboard cutouts with faces that embedded Amazon’s Prime logo as a frowning mouth.
“Amazon Prime, not on our time! No tech, no ICE!”
Celi Tamayo-Lee, Bay Resistance and San Francisco Rising activist said:
“We are calling on Amazon to cut their contracts with the Department of Homeland Security and their coordination with Palantir – that is designing and utilizing technology from facial recognition to social media content.”
“And their investment in this technology is deliberately allowing innocent families to be locked up, detained and deported.”
Kong Feng, Jobs for Justice San Francisco director, said Amazon has two different types of technologies that track undocumented immigrants – Amazon web services and Amazon facial recognition technology. He explained the web services is a cloud-based platform where ICE can host and collect immense amounts of data on undocumented immigrants.
“They have met with ICE officials [and] they are giving this to law enforcement agencies; they’re using this surveillance technologies that are incredibly invasive. And some of ICE are going through our driver license databases and using facial recognition to be able to find people.”
He added that Amazon has not denied using facial recognition technology and that the company is marketing it to ICE and other law enforcement agencies.
Before the rally began, Marcela Onate-Trules of Young Workers United went with a group of people to give Amazon hundreds of thousands of signed petitions requesting they cease cooperation with ICE, but was denied entrance.
“They closed the doors in our faces; they wouldn’t let us enter.”
The activist explained that while the group was denied entry, Amazon corporate workers were walking through the building and offices with ease.
“We have 270,000 petitions on this hard drive and 700 pieces of paper with the names [of those who signed] in this box, demanding that Amazon end their ties with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security.”
Labor organizers also rallied, noting an international wave of strikes by Amazon workers against working conditions and treatment. Judy Greenspan, a member of the International Workers Solidarity Movement, said that Somali immigrant workers in Minnesota were leading the strike:
“They are fighting not only for unions; they are fighting for living wages, for benefits so they can live because we know how much [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos makes and we know how little Amazon workers make. And not only is Amazon operating with ICE, they have inhumane conditions not only in this country [but also] around the world.”
Greenspan noted that while the focus of the protest was on ICE, attention should also be given to how companies are targeting their workers so that they are unable to speak out against employer policies and poor treatment.
Mujeres Unidas y Activas staffer Enma Delgado, who came to the U.S. with her children from El Salvador, spoke in Spanish and was interpreted in English.
“We’re not migrating to come here and be tourists, we’re not coming to the United States to have fun. We’re coming to the United States because we need to save our lives. And this is not only happening in Central America and El Salvador; this is happening worldwide.”
Undocumented immigrant communities have been bracing for planned Immigration raids in major US cities for the last week. Speaking about the fear among immigrants in the City, Feng said:
“This past week, all of us have been [on] high alert. People have been afraid to go to work and afraid to go to school and with these threats of ICE raids looming, what we’re trying to demonstrate is that it’s not just ICE – there’s a whole group of companies that tells [ICE about undocumented immigrants].”
“I know the Mission was pretty empty this weekend because of this paranoia. As many of us are part of organizations or maybe are personally documented, it’s important that we’re out here [as we don’t have] the fear of being detained.”