An Undocumented Student’s Open Letter to Former Obama WH Press Secretary Jay Carney and Amazon

Oct 25, 2019
3:40 PM

Editor’s Note: Earlier this week, Latino Rebels received the following open letter.

My name is Arlin Téllez, I am an undocumented student at Trinity Washington University. On October 23, Dream.US scholarship recipients (all of whom are undocumented), were visited by Jay Carney, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs for Amazon. During a Q&A opportunity, I confronted Carney on Amazon’s contacts with ICE, since Amazon has been well-cited as the “backbone to ICE,” providing surveillance technology to criminalize our undocumented community. This was my testimony and statement that I presented.

An open letter to Jay Carney and Amazon:

My name is Arlin Téllez, I’m a second-year student studying international relations. I grew up in North Carolina, where I did not have access to higher education because it is considered a locked-out state. In 2017 after graduation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA was being rescinded and I was not going to be eligible to renew my work permit. This led me to join the immigrant rights movement and through this, I learned about This scholarship once inspired me because it was founded for undocumented students to not only have access to higher education but to advocate for ourselves.

This summer, I worked as a researcher for an organization in Texas where I learned about two bills, HB1325 and HB1326, that criminalizes our communities. I worked to stop raids and helped community members find their loved ones in detention centers. I also listened to the stories of people who were detained. They shared with me their experiences of being beaten and raped by officers inside the detention centers. Part of my research included sitting down in court and listening to federal re-entry cases, where immigrants would stand before a judge and apologize for coming to this country while their family members cried in the audience knowing that this would probably be the last that they’d see their loved one. It broke my heart.

I can’t help to think that the backbone of all this injustice is ICE, the agency that is separating our families and powering the raids. And I can’t sit here today and not remember that it’s Amazon who provides technology to ICE to allow these injustices to continue.

Your algorithms powering Investigative Case Management (ICM) through Amazon Web Services (AWS) are separating our families. Palantir pays Amazon approximately $600,000 a month for the use of its servers. Is that how much our immigrant community costs to you? ICM through AWS hosts several of DHS’s other major immigration-related databases and operations, including all the core data systems for USCIS and biometric data for 230 million individuals, including fingerprints, face records, and iris scans, which are playing a growing role in immigration enforcement around the country.

How can you justify funding undocumented students’ education while profiting off our suffering? In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide the fate of DACA. If determined that this program ends, DACA recipients in this room will soon lose protection from deportation and the technology you provide to ICE could be used to deport us, the very people you claim to help. Even today, many of these scholars don’t have DACA and off-campus we are just another body that your technology profits from. If your corporation really wants to help our community then you need to commit to ending these DoD contracts and stop providing technology to ICE. Will you commit to ending this immoral practice?

Arlin Téllez