OAKLAND, CA (November 10, 2021) Today, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization with a long history of economic activism – announced a new initiative for activists targeting border and surveillance industries. The divestment list includes household names like Microsoft, Motorola, IBM, Salesforce, Google, and Amazon.
"These companies build border walls and so called ‘smart’ borders, hacking into our phones and tracking all our movements, hunting down immigrants and caging families,” said Dov Baum, AFSC’s director of economic activism. “Let's call on our city, college, faith organization, endowment, union, pension fund or bank to divest for immigrant justice, to cut our ties and withdraw from any partnership with these surveillance and security industries. It is time for us to divest from these harmful business activities, and invest in our communities instead."
AFSC worked with researchers from the Economic Activism Summer School and Empower LLC to identify and profile more than 60 publicly-traded companies involved in these industries. The organization assessed their complicity and responsiveness to the public and arrived at a shortlist of the worst 25 companies, the first-ever divestment list designed to promote immigrant justice.
AFSC is the first institution with a comprehensive immigrant justice investment policy; with a decision to divest from the prison industrial complex as a whole, not just from private prison companies; and with a policy that addresses Israeli apartheid. The policy guides AFSC’s approximately $240 million investment portfolio.
“AFSC’s investment philosophy is to invest responsibly in alignment with our mission as well as with the Religious Society of Friends’ beliefs and testimonies, which include peace, simplicity, integrity, and justice,” said Joyce Ajlouny, General Secretary of AFSC. “An ethical investment policy does not harm returns; in our experience, socially responsible investing has created more competitive and sustainable returns over the long run. We have seen that investing in peace works, and we hope AFSC can serve as a model for others who want their investment portfolios to be aligned peace and justice.”
The implementation of this policy and the call to divest for immigrant justice are made possible by AFSC’s Investigate database, which allows investors to scan their stock portfolios and mutual funds to see if they are invested in companies that are involved in state violence. The database lists over 200 company and industry profiles.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. Drawing on continuing spiritual insights and working with people of many backgrounds, we nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social systems.