Colleges pressured to cut ties with ICE

Colleges pressured to cut ties with ICE
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Several higher education institutions are facing calls from staff and students to cut ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Officials at Johns Hopkins and Northeastern universities are both facing petitions demanding that the institutions end their current contracts with the immigration agency, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Johns Hopkins’ School of Education has worked with ICE since 2009, and the university has received about $6.6 million in contracts from the agency over the years, according to the news site.

The professor who created the petition, Drew Daniels, tweeted Sunday that the form had earned more than 1,000 signatures.

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“Given the extent and extremity of its cruel practices and the scale of ongoing human rights charters which ICE continues to violate, we do not see how in good conscience Johns Hopkins University can collaborate with this organization,” the letter sent to university officials reads.

Johns Hopkins said in a statement that the university's "faculty have longstanding service contracts with federal law enforcement agencies to provide education, training, and medical expertise."

And Northeastern has a contract with the agency that could total up to $7.8 million. The university told Inside Higher Ed that a faculty member is working with ICE data on his research on materials used for weapons of mass destruction imported and exported across borders.

The Northeastern petition has earned more than 2,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, and states that “[having any kind of contract with ICE at this moment in history is irresponsible and immoral.”

“Our commitment to academic freedom goes beyond protecting what professors say; it also means allowing faculty members to freely pursue research funding in their fields of expertise,” Northeastern spokeswoman Renata Nyul told Inside Higher Ed. “Efforts to restrict which federal agencies a faculty member can approach for research funding are antithetical to academic freedom.”

Inside Higher Ed reported that three other institutions — the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Vermont State Colleges system and the University of Maryland at College Park — currently have contracts with ICE.

Officials at the University of Alabama and the Vermont college system told the news site that the work laid out in the contracts have been completed.

The AP reported that a student at Northern Vermont University is also circulating a petition calling for officials to cut ties with ICE. A spokeswoman for Vermont Technical College, which had a contract with ICE, told the wire service that it was not related to law enforcement or policing.

Scrutiny over ICE has increased in recent months due to the agency's role in enforcing the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy at the border and, in the past, helping separate immigrant families under a since-ended policy.

Some Democrats have called to abolish ICE and have introduced legislation to do so. House Republicans passed a resolution last week showing support for the agency.