An online petition was launched on Thursday by a coalition of rights group for urging IBM Corp to refuse to work on developing technology that will be used by the Trump Administration for carrying out a proposal to identify individuals for deportation or visa denial from the United States. An informational session hosted in July by immigration enforcement officials was attended by IBM and a number of other technology companies. The purpose of the session was to discuss the development of technology that could be used for vetting immigrants. US President Donald Trump has promised that screening procedures for people who wish to enter the country will be toughened up.
He has also stated that procedures of ‘extreme vetting’ should be launched against some immigrants to ensure they are making a contribution to the society. He stated that these measures are of the utmost importance for curtailing illegal immigration and protecting the society. According to the rights group, these proposals are against the stated goals of IBM aimed at protecting the ‘Dreamer’ immigrants from being deported. When questioned about the petition and their intention of helping vetting and deporting immigrants, a spokeswoman for IBM stated that they would not be a part of any projects that go against their values.
She asserted that these values include their long-standing opposition to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation, gender, race or religion. On Thursday, a broader advocacy campaign was also initiated and the petition is tied to it. The purpose of the campaign is to object to the Extreme Vetting Initiative of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In an email on October 5th, the nonprofit organization Open Mic asked IBM’s vice president of government affairs, Christopher Padilla about the vetting program. He cited the company’s stance against discrimination.
As per Padilla, the meeting they attended was purely informational and it was too early to speculate whether IBM would participate in any activities concerning the Extreme Vetting Initiative. The federal contracting websites published some documents and according to them, ICE is interested in using social media networking and machine learning technology for monitoring and determining if a person is making a positive contribution to the society. Separate letters were sent by 50 technical experts and 50 civil society groups to the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday. These letters described the vetting program as something made for discrimination and it seemed that information desired by the ICE couldn’t be obtained through artificial intelligence.
IBM, as well as other technology firms, are under pressure from opponents of Trump’s policies, whether they are about trade or immigration. They want the companies to not accept proposals to work in these areas from the administration of the Republican president. IBM is just one of the various technology companies that joined a legal briefing for opposing the decision taken by Trump to put an end to the ‘Dreamer’ program protecting 900,000 immigrants from deportation as they were brought into the United States illegally as children.