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Software Company's Recruitment Visit To CMU Met By Protestors

Sean Spencer
90.5 WESA
Protest participants from left to right: Ahmed Sanda, 26; event organizer Bonnie Fan, 27; Kayla Reiman, 27; Kevin Geng, 20; and Alisar Mustafa, 23 hold up signs on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019.

Students protested at Carnegie Mellon University Wednesday against a campus recruitment visit by software company Palantir. The business contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and its software has been used to aid the agency in workplace deportation raids. 

ICE has been criticized heavily by human rights organizations, in part for its family separations and migrant deaths in its custody.

In recent weeks campus recruitment efforts by Palantir have been met with protests  across the country. Locally, the CMU event was organized in part by Bonnie Fan, who is a graduate student at the university's Heinz College.

Credit Sean Spencer / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Joao Martins, 33, says he attended the protest because he "believes that separating families, mass deportation, is wrong because people are not coming here to commit crimes -- they are here to look for a better life."

Fan said she's particularly disappointed Palantir was on campus because CMU has released a statement in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. That policy postpones deportation for some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

"Bringing a company that enabled ICE deportations on the undocumented community was harmful, and in direct violation of that statement," Fan said. 

School of Computer Science graduate student João Martins also attended the protest.

"I believe there are absolute moral wrongs in separating people from their families and deporting them en masse," Martins said.

In a statement CMU said it supports freedom of speech.

Credit Sean Spencer / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Students gather in the hallway outside where Palantir's Tech Talk is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019.

"The university supports both the rights of the students protesting and those who wish to consider employment with a particular employer."

Palantir did not respond to a request for comment.

WESA receives funding from Carnegie Mellon University.