Johns Hopkins University is standing firm in its ongoing commitment to train Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents despite protest from its student population.
Last Wednesday, JHU students protested the university’s continued ties with ICE by walking out of class (of course) and demanding the school stop its programs to help the agency. The university has, for years, contracted with ICE to train agents mainly through its medical school. Students have now staged four such protests, according to Campus Reform.
“We believe it’s against Hopkins’ core value, mission and alleged commitment to diversity to continue these contracts,” graduate student Samantha Agarwal told WJZ-TV, a Baltimore CBS affiliate. She added that she felt “really frustrated that Hopkins has failed to take our demands seriously.”
Student protesters circulated a petition created last July by associate professor Drew Daniel to demand JHU stop supporting ICE through its training programs. The protest gained more than 2,000 signatures, but failed to sway the school’s administration.
“ICE is now currently responsible for the fabrication and maintenance of facilities across the country which have been described by scholars of the Holocaust as meeting the conditions considered definitive of concentration camps: indefinite detention without trial on the basis of identity,” the petition states.
“I care very deeply about Hopkins,” Daniel said during last week’s protest, according to the Baltimore Sun. “I cannot ignore this institution anymore as it wanders ever farther into a moral abyss. ICE terrorizes black and brown communities. ICE violates the human rights of people it detains. It separates children from their families.”
JHU President Ronald Daniels refused to give in to the protesters’ demands. Karen Lancaster, assistant vice president for external relations, told Campus Reform that “Johns Hopkins University respects and appreciates student and faculty efforts to engage in dialogue and debate on significant national policy issues, including the current discussion on immigration topics.”
Lancaster also told Campus Reform that the school stands by its training of ICE agents.
“We believe that these programs serve the public interest by providing quality education and emergency medical training that ultimately benefit those who interact with the agency,” she said.
In a statement to WJZ-TV, a university spokesperson said the “specialized training and leadership programs with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency have no relationship to the enforcement of immigration policies by the current or any other administration.”
Further, JHU allows illegal immigrants to enroll, and hires staff regardless of immigration status. The medical schools also offers these populations access to health care.
Around 150 students marched around campus chanting, “Caging children is horrific. JHU is complicit” and “JHU hear us shout. We won’t stop until ICE is out,” according to the Sun.
JHU didn’t start providing contracts to ICE under President Donald Trump.
“Since 2008, the university has earned more than $7 million from 37 contracts with ICE, according to government spending data. Hopkins has three contracts with the agency totaling more than $1.7 million. The contracts, set to expire this year, are primarily with the medical school for educational programs that provide emergency medical training and leadership education,” the Sun reported.
Five other universities have contracts with the agency.