On October 17, President Daniels and Provost Kumar responded to the petition which we delivered on September 21. They did so in a letter emailed only to Dr. Drew Daniel, TRU, Students Against Private Police, the undergraduate Student Government Association, and the Graduate Representative Organization. A copy of their email is attached and transcribed below, along with the response written by the Hopkins Coalition Against ICE and endorsed by TRU.
October 17, 2018
Via Electronic Delivery
Dear Dr. Daniel and Members of the Johns Hopkins Community,
We are writing to you in response to your petition requesting that the university end its contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). We appreciate your efforts to engage our community in debate around significant national policy issues and the work and role of our university. The concerns you raise are serious and deserve a considered response.
At issue are two long-standing educational programs that provide emergency medical training and leadership education:
- The School of Education’s Division of Public Safety Leadership (PSL) has taught leadership and management courses in degree and certificate programs to law enforcement and public safety personnel at the local, state, and federal levels since 1994, including under a contract with ICE since 2008. This contract will expire in 2019, and the
PSL program as a whole is currently being wound down.
- The School of Medicine’s Center for Law Enforcement Medicine provides specialized physician oversight and education for federal law enforcement personnel who are cross-trained as paramedics and emergency medical technicians, including under contracts with the U.S. Secret Service (since 1999), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (since 2007), the U.S. Marshals Service (since 2007), and ICE (since 2004).
Your petition focuses on the role of ICE in carrying out the immigration policies of the current administration, particularly with respect to family separation and deportation. The petition argues that the policies and actions of ICE are so repugnant to the widely shared values of our
community that we should intervene to terminate the contracts and disassociate the university from the agency.
What we believe is not at issue in your petition, but we want to reaffirm based on other questions we’ve received, is the university’s unwavering commitment to supporting our international and DACA students; offering broad access and support to our students, faculty, and staff without regard to immigration status; and providing exceptional care to immigrant and refugee populations in our hospitals and clinics in the United States and around the world. Johns Hopkins does not provide information about the immigration status of members of our community unless required by law, and Johns Hopkins’ safety and security officers neither request information regarding citizenship nor enforce federal immigration laws without a specific court order. We have been unequivocal in our public statements concerning the consequences of recent immigration policies that have a clear, direct, and demonstrable impact on members of our university community.
After carefully considering your petition, we have concluded that it would be inappropriate and inadvisable for the university to agree to your request.
Our reasoning is grounded in the university’s long-standing deference to faculty decisions made in relation to their research, teaching, and clinical work. This stance is an aspect of our more generalized commitment to the principle of academic freedom.
Here, the two programs at issue were initiated some years ago by members of the faculty in the School of Education and School of Medicine; today, these and other faculty colleagues are responsible for fulfilling and overseeing the programs and remain committed to undertaking educational activities with the agency. Notably, colleagues who lead and participate in these programs do not regard their work as constituting an endorsement—explicitly or implicitly—of the current administration’s immigration policies. In fact, colleagues involved in the programs
share the reservations you have raised about aspects of the federal government’s current immigration enforcement activities. Yet, despite these concerns, our colleagues believe that their programs serve the public interest by providing quality education and emergency medical training
that ultimately benefit those who interact with the agency. Their conviction is buttressed by the fact that the two programs appear to function at some distance from the policies and operational decisions of the federal government, decisions that necessarily change over time and across
We believe that it would be antithetical to the mission of the university if we were to insist that faculty members withhold instruction or medical care in order to have the university express its disapproval of certain aspects of current federal policy.
In this respect, we see a similarity to the view held by faculty elsewhere in the university who conduct research and educational activities in foreign countries where the governments’ norms and policies are regarded by many in our university community as harmful, offensive, or unjust. Despite our colleagues’ criticism of, and opposition to, those countries’ norms and policies, they believe that the benefit of their work—in public health, medical care, engineering, or policy development—merits continued engagement, and even direct work, with these governments. And the university has been unflinching in its support for these activities.
While the claim to protection for research, education, and clinical activities by faculty and students on the grounds of academic freedom is not unbounded, the university must be exceptionally reluctant to abridge that protection. In this case, and after careful consideration of the views of affected faculty, we have concluded that it would be wrong to insist that these contracts be terminated. Thank you again for conveying your views and concerns on this important matter.
Ronald J. Daniels, President
Sunil Kumar, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
The Hopkins Coalition Against ICE has drafted a response, which has been endorsed by a number of groups, including TRU, rejecting the administration’s specious logic.
Endorsement of the Anti-ICE Coalition’s Response to University
In September, nearly 2,000 university affiliates petitioned Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to immediately end its partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On October 17, President Daniels rejected our demands, emphasizing that the Public Safety Leadership program is winding down and claiming that ending the Center for Law Enforcement Medicine’s cooperation with ICE would infringe on academic freedom. The administration also highlighted that the university does not abridge existing contracts on the basis of changes in federal policy.
These justifications are unacceptable. Facilitating the activities of ICE — including family separation, indefinite detention and mass deportation — is antithetical to the university’s proclaimed values, lacks the academic merit warranting the invocation of academic freedom, and is indefensible under any administration.
JHU has at least three ongoing contracts with ICE, including a program in the School of Medicine that provides medical training to law enforcement agencies and another in the School of Education that provides organizational leadership training. These contracts amount to over $1.6 million in revenue for JHU. But the university’s collaboration with ICE has not been limited to these 5 contracts: since 2009, the university has held 37 contracts with ICE, with the most lucrative worth nearly $950,000. In total, the university has received $6.5 million from ICE since 2008.
Their defense of these contracts is increasingly untenable by the day. In the time since the university’s response to our petition, President Trump sent 5,200 troops to the US’s southern border in response to an imaginary migration crisis and announced plans to eliminate birthright citizenship. At least 220 children separated from their families still remain in custody, four months after a judge ordered all families to be reunited.
These policies are a continuation of the xenophobic logic that ICE was founded on 15 years ago. Their effects are devastating and far-reaching. JHU’s claim that the contracts are made at a “distance from the policies and operational decisions of the federal government” is irrelevant. Our position is that there is no justifiable way to participate in an oppressive institution regardless of whether one supplies the bullets or the band aids.
The university administration defends these contracts by claiming that to terminate them executively would infringe on academic freedom. In this defense, the administration appears to offer protection for faculty to teach controversial subjects without fear of reprisal. The instructional manner of these contracted courses belies the validity of this defense.
The Department of Homeland Security has contracted with Johns Hopkins University, not individual professors. Many of the courses, both in the School of Medicine and School of Education, are led by part-time instructors who are hired on a course-by-course basis, meaning that the instructors do not have a say in whether to maintain these courses.
Under the proposed definition of academic freedom advanced in the letter, JHU is obliged to accept any contract that has the support of a faculty member. This is not the purpose of academic freedom protections. These “courses” are not forums for controversial discussions, venues for critical examination of fraught topics, or tools for research and knowledge production. They are training programs which enable human rights abuses.
JHU administration also claims that the medical training it provides “ultimately benefits those who interact with” ICE. This is an irrelevant point. If JHU wishes to provide medical services to migrants, they need not to do so through ICE. Academic freedom should not give cover to the immense human cost of facilitating this agency’s activities.
JHU’s response to our petition also underlined the services the university provides to immigrants and proclaimed its support for its students, faculty, and staff “regardless of immigration status.”
Currently, there are several constructive ways in which JHU members contribute to the migrant community. Faculty and students at the School of Public Health, for example, carry out important research to expose the deleterious effects of family separation on children, and have been addressing how the fear of deportation contributes to suicide. We believe in the value of this work and support its continuation and expansion.
At the same time, some of the university administration’s recent actions detract from this positive legacy. Over the summer, the university informed one of its employees of five years that it had failed to submit her H1-B visa application on time because it “would no longer be accepted by the people who scrutinize these things.” Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel, Digital Scholarship Specialist and Adjunct Professor of Digital Humanities at Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, was given only ten days to leave the US—forcing her to leave her family behind. When she appealed to the university administration she was met with indifference. Nearly 2,000 people petitioned the university on her behalf, but the administration remains silent to this day.
We call on JHU to end its complicity with mass deportations and family separations, and take concrete steps to protect international students and employees. We will not cease our demands until the JHU administration terminates its contracts with ICE.
American Civil Liberties Union (Maryland)
Teachers and Researchers United
International Socialist Organization (Baltimore)
Students Against Private Police
Party for Socialism and Liberation (Baltimore)
Johns Hopkins Student Government Association
Industrial Workers of the World (Baltimore)
Jews United for Justice
Students for Justice in Palestine (JHU)