Pro­test­ers tar­get North­east­ern over $2.7M con­tract with ICE


BOS­TON — North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity stu­dents yelled “ICE has got to go,” while march­ing through the school’s quad and de­manded of­fi­cials can­cel a mul­timil­lion-dol­lar re­search con­tract with U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment. The protest and march Wednes­day was at­tended by stu­dents, fac­ulty and com­mu­nity mem­bers. They in­sist hav­ing any kind of con­tract with ICE is “ir­re­spon­si­ble and im­moral.” Fed­eral spend­ing data shows that North­east­ern has re­ceived $2.7 mil­lion from ICE over the last two years. The po­ten­tial award amount is listed at over $7.7 mil­lion over an al­most five-year pe­riod. North­east­ern said the grant isn’t fund­ing re­search that has any­thing to do with im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment. Law pro­fes­sor Brook Baker, who watched pro­test­ers, said “there’s a se­ri­ous ques­tion raised over whether the uni­ver­sity should be re­ceiv­ing re­search funds from ICE, which is en­gaged in il­le­gal and im­moral hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion ac­tiv­i­ties at the bor­der in ac­cept­ing law­ful refugees.” Glenn Pierce is a prin­ci­pal re­search sci­en­tist at the uni­ver­sity who ap­plied for the grant in 2016. He told The Bos­ton Globe his work fo­cuses on tech­nol­ogy that could be used for ter­ror­ism, and does not deal di­rectly with im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment. Law stu­dent Meghan Thomas called the agree­ment “a slap in the face” to stu­dents. “I can’t imag­ine my mom be­ing de­tained in a cafe to make a bet­ter life for me, my brother and my sis­ter,” she told pro­test­ers. Thomas’ par­ents are orig­i­nally from Gre­nada and Aruba, but have since be­come ci­ti­zens, she said. She was cit­ing the re­cent sep­a­ra­tion of fam­i­lies at the south­ern U.S. bor­der by gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies. She is one of many peo­ple also urg­ing North­east­ern to drop ICE as a co-op em­ployer, and cut off grant and con­tract ties. Thomas started an open let­ter ask­ing the uni­ver­sity to re­move a fall co-op po­si­tion listed on the school’s em­ploy- ment site for the ICE Of­fice of pol­icy in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. A screen­shot shared with The As­so­ci­ated Press shows an un­paid po­si­tion with con­tact ma­te­rial for an ICE an em­ployee on the site. A sep­a­rate pe­ti­tion de­mand­ing ICE drop its con­tract with ICE has gar­nered over 2,000 sig­na­tures. North­east­ern spokes­woman Re­nata Nyul said the uni­ver­sity of­fers learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with 3,000 em­ploy­ers world­wide. “While we re­al­ize that some or­ga­ni­za­tions elicit strong po­lit­i­cal views, this should never pro­hibit stu­dents from seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion,” she said. She added stu­dents’ aca­demic and pro­fes­sional goals should not be “cur­tailed by so­cial and po­lit­i­cal pres­sure.” In re­sponse to that, Thomas said it is “sad that the uni­ver­sity seems to value so-called aca­demic free­dom over tak­ing the side of jus­tice.” Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity, the Uni­ver­sity of Alabama-Birm­ing­ham, Vir­ginia Polytech­nic In­sti­tute and State Uni­ver­sity and Ver­mont’s state col­leges also got ICE grants this year.

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