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Petition Urges end to Northeastern University’s Million Dollar Contract With ICE

Would abolishing ICE reform the immigration system?

Ginny Dang

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Over the past few weeks, a number of activists and a group of Democratic officials are calling for the dissolution of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the midst of Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

Recently, a petition launched by Boston activist, Evan Greer has urged Northeastern University to end its multimillion-dollar contract to do research for ICE. The agreement promised a tactic award amount of approximately $7.8 million if it goes through August 2021. Until now, approximately $2.7 million has been obligated in the contract between the university and ICE for “exploratory methods mapping (EMM) process services for big data sets.”

According to the petition, any ties and collaboration with ICE are immoral and irresponsible. From then on, the petition has more than 1,200 signatures online from students, alumni and even faculty, staff members. Greer said on Thursday: “Northeastern as an institution has political power, and it needs to decide whether it wants to use that political power to fight for what’s right”

Glenn Pierce, a principal research scientist at Northeastern who applied for the grant in 2016 said “If someone wants to say the overall agency is a problem, then that would be a problem.. I get that, and I think that you could make that argument… But if you look at it a little more closely, that’s not what we’re doing and that’s not what we want to do”. On the other hands, Pierce said his word doesn’t relate to immigration enforcement and detention, instead, its export data for “dual-use” technology might be used for illegal, destructive purposes such as terrorism.

Northeastern announced in a statement that: “Our commitment to academic freedom goes beyond protecting what professor says; it also means allowing faculty members to freely pursue researching funding in their fields of expertise… Efforts to restrict which federal agencies a faculty member can approach for research funding are antithetical to academic freedom.”

ICE, which was founded in 2003, is an agency under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, ICE does not patrol American borders, that’s the job of Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency for the Border Patrol.

Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois told CNN early this month: “You abolish ICE now, you still have the same president with the same failed policies.”

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Ginny is a junior Psychology major at Trinity College. She aspires to cultivate the spirit of a journalist and an essayist in her quest to become a writer.

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