Rally for Immigrants’ Lives tackles JHU-ICE

By JAMES SCHARF | January 31, 2019

Members of the Hopkins community gathered on Wednesday to listen to a panel about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its contracts with the University. The four panelists included an expert on migration, an organizer for CASA de Maryland, a volunteer with Sanctuary Streets of Baltimore, and Drew Daniel, the Hopkins English professor who organized a petition protesting the JHU-ICE contracts.

Event sponsors and co-hosts included the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE, the Baltimore Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Baltimore branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), the Baltimore chapter of the International Socialist Organization, Students Against Private Police (SAPP) at Hopkins, Sanctuary Streets Baltimore, Teachers and Researchers United (TRU), Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) Baltimore, the Baltimore Democratic Socialists of America, Casa de Maryland, Hopkins Students for Justice in Palestine, the Hopkins Graduate Representative Organization and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland.

In an email to The News-Letter, Sam Agarwal, a PhD student at Hopkins and an organizer of the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE, explained that the panel was a reaction to the University’s failure to terminate its contracts with ICE following student-run protests.

“Hopkins has refused to dump the ICE contracts,” Agarwal wrote. “The coalition hopes this event will give more students the political knowledge and determination to participate in a walkout against the contracts next Wednesday at 11 a.m.”

Daniel, who began the petition for Hopkins to terminate its relationship with ICE last summer, first learned about the University’s relationship with the government organization through TRU. He believes that the character and actions of ICE, which has been criticized for the separation of families at the border and the mistreatment of migrants, is incompatible with what he sees as the University’s mission.

“Given the racist intimidation tactics that ICE agents subject black and brown peoples to everyday in our country... it is painfully obvious that the actions of ICE are deeply in contrast with the allegedly humane values of Johns Hopkins University to generate knowledge for the world,” Daniel said. 

Sophomore Jeremy Berger stood up during the discussion section to pledge to participate in the walkout.

“I support immigrants and migrants and I find it appalling that the school that I go to has contracts with an organization whose sole purpose is to deport people and to harass immigrants,” he said. “It’s an institution that needs to be done away with and it certainly should not be one that my school has contracts with.”

Jonathan Phillips, a graduate student in the department of the History of Science and Technology, believes that ICE should be abolished.

“[ICE is] an inhumane and unnecessary organization,” Phillips said. “It far exceeds the historical mandate for border enforcement, especially ours inside the United States, and it’s a moral and a practical disaster.”

Berger thinks that Hopkins students are very receptive to the Coalition’s message and goals, even though he says that they have a reputation for a lack of interest in political affairs.

“Hopkins has a reputation for political apathy, but I actually find that a lot of people are interested in political issues,” Berger said. “I’m optimistic. I see a lot of my fellow students are willing to stand up and take action. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

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