Amazon and the Abuse of Power Over Immigrants

Amazon and the Abuse of Power Over Immigrants

Written by Michelle Manivel, IFCLA Policy Intern (Spring 2019)

Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Amazon has recently been scrutinized for multiple incidents relating to gentrification, tax incentives, and now they are attacking our neighbors with their support and contracting for the deportation of immigrants. Here we will uncover how Amazon specifically is targeting immigrants, where it has instilled fear, and what you can do to make an impact!


Rekognition is a facial recognition technology produced by Amazon which has been pitched to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to help identify immigrants who are potentially undocumented.  This system has been built to analyze an image or video to confirm identities through a comparison with live images and reference images. This leads to stigma, racial profiling and biases people have surrounding immigrants and people of color. We need to keep this technology out of the government to keep our neighbors’ and our privacy safe.

It brings fear

This new facial recognition technology is concerning to privacy advocates as it demonstrates a violation of basic rights and the expectation of privacy common in our daily lives. With a large majority of Latino immigrants living in Queens (the location where Amazon was going to build their headquarters), the collaboration of this tech giant and ICE would have instantly brought fear and danger to the surrounding community. Due to community responses, Amazon cancelled their plans to build the HQ2 facility in that location.Some so-called “sanctuary cities” throughout the United States risk becoming an idea of the past, as this new technology would collect license plates, fingerprints, and facial photographs and use that information to arrest, detain and deport our neighbors, despite the protections of policies and fundamental right to due process we claim as part of our nation’s democracy. Trump’s federal police would have full access to in-depth personal information based on technology that codifies racial profiling. We cannot stand for legitimized racism in the enforcement of our nation’s outdated immigration laws.

But, Queens is not alone

Facial recognition, along with other immigration enforcement technology tools, have become threats in many cities throughout the U.S. In California, some cities are trying to cut ties with tech giants that cooperate with ICE. Even if we live outside of California or Queens, our tax dollars are going towards tech-systems through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Amazon and the like are only encouraging it to go further.  The praise, enticement and predictive policing patterns fueled by profit must stop.

Why and how does this threaten our values?

  • Violation of privacy

    • Exchanges information from city, state, regional, and foreign government systems

    • Violates reasonable expectations of privacy in common settings (i.e., tracking common objects through videos)

  • Acts as a data broker: Amazon’s technology is used to store data (internet browsing history, shopping, social media behavior) that is later analyzed to support ICE in guessing immigration status of targeted individuals

  • Increases fear in immigrant communities

  • Gives large employers unjust power and control over job markets, which threatens our belief in the dignity of all labor and that all people have the right to safe and humane work conditions that honors their integrity and autonomy

  • Amazon offers convenience to millions of shoppers, at the cost/expense of systematized racial profiling, discrimination and violation of rights of others

Click here to see a visual representation of how Amazon profits off of increased immigration enforcement.


  • Sign the petition at

  • Use hashtags #DeportICE,#NoTechForICE,#AbolishICE. Sample posts:

    • .@amazon is a key contractor helping ICE carry out their violent anti-immigrant agenda.✍️Sign the petition now! #NoTechForICE

    • We're not against tech solutions, but tech needs oversight & TRANSPARENCY. Too often we have no idea how this software is being used b/c these companies don't share, even in public contracts. We feel the effects on the ground, but don't know why. This must stop. #NoTechforICE

    • We will NOT stop resisting ICE, and outing ICE's high tech collaborators. Resist racist technology. Let’s ban @amazon until they stop funding the deportation regime. #NoTechForICE

  • Demand that your state, city, or municipality end contracts allowing information sharing technologies to/from ICE (Rekognition), end contracts with private data brokers working with ICE, and terminate contracts with predictive policing programs that are hurting community members.

  • Spread the word. Share this post, articles, and comments on your social media feeds. Invite your friends, families, congregations, organizations and colleagues to sign the petition.

  • Take your business elsewhere! Shop local and support local business owners to use our collective buying power to pressure Amazon to change their priorities.

Read the full report, “Who’s Behind ICE: The Tech and Data Companies Fueling Deportations”, produced by Mijente, National Immigration Project, and the Immigrant Defense Project, online here.