Amazon provides the infrastructure for mass deportations. Echoing IBM collaboration with Nazi Germany in WWII, Amazon AWS CloudGov and divisions of Microsoft collaborate with ICE, CBP, and the Department of Defense. One such program collects mass biometric information (fingerprints, DNA tests, retina scans, etc.) into databases for every level of government to exploit against immigrants.
AWS powers dystopian firms like Palantir that analyze every scrap of metadata from social media, government agencies, and more to help identify, tag, and deport immigrants as well as monitor dissidents on the left. Amazon workers, joined by DSA members, protested.
In response, Bezos scolded workers and other tech firms for not collaborating more with oppressive government agencies. With profit coming in from both the government and contractors, Bezos doesn’t care. It’s not in his interest for many reasons. Here’s why:
When Amazon collaborates with ICE and mass surveillance then turns around to immigrants workers to work longer, for less, or risk losing their immigration status, that’s exploitative. Where bosses can abuse, they will. Citizenship is a tool in the boss’s arsenal. Despite this, immigrant workers stand among the forefront of workplace organizing at fulfillment centers, from Shakopee, MN to Sacramento, CA.
Delivery drivers, often immigrants, find themselves exploited. With the potential to earn steadier wages than ride-share services, many workers turn to deliveries after work to make ends meet. Similar to the breakneck pick-rates at fulfillment centers, Amazon pressures delivery drivers into unsafe conditions. Amazons shirks its liability in accidents and other human costs. Few guardrails exist to ensure workers get sleep, fair pay, and breaks.
Amazon hires more H1-B workers than any other tech company. It’s done under the auspices of providing opportunity to workers. That’s not true. Amazon’s cynical interest in immigration is two-fold: 1) make money off the harsh enforcement and 2) pressure H1-B workers into longer hours, for less pay than US counterparts.
The solution, however, isn’t to pit US workers against their colleagues. That only makes bosses like Jeff Bezos richer. It’s for workers to unite, regardless of immigration status, and demand an end to collaboration with ICE. Workers all deserve time off and equal pay for equal work. No threats of reprisal and regardless of nationality, gender, religion, or sexuality.
You can help Seattle DSA’s immigration justice working group (and the wider Washington Immigration Solidarity Network coalition) to support immigrants through a variety of tactics: immigration bond funds, court accompaniments, know your rights trainings, and more. To get connected: