EXCLUSIVE: Sanctuary city college rescinds ICE career fair invitation

At least one student group was unhappy with ICE attending the event, alleging that the agency has "criminalized and dehumanized Latin American people."

Amid the backlash, the university rescinded ICE's career fair invitation, despite a university spokesman's previous acknowledgement that the agency's presence would "benefit" students.

St. John's University in New York City invited Immigration and Customs Enforcement to attend a campus career fair on September 20.

A college in a sanctuary city disinvited representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from attending a campus career fair after at least one student group threatened to protest the agency’s presence on campus. 

An ICE spokesperson confirmed to Campus Reform on Tuesday that representatives from ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations were originally scheduled to attend a career fair at St. John’s University in Queens, New York on September 20 but that, ahead of the event, a school administrator expressed concern over ICE’s attendance, citing threats of student protests. 

Queens is one of five boroughs in New York City, which is considered a “sanctuary city.”  

Haraya, a St. John’s University student group that focuses on empowering the black community, is one student group that opposed the university extending a career fair invitation to ICE.

According to The Torch, the university’s independent student newspaper, Haraya is “one of the largest cultural organizations on the SJU Queens campus, as well as [sic] one of the most popular.”

”This is another example of the constant disrespect St. John’s shows towards their minority student[s],” the group tweeted on September 19, the day before the career fair was scheduled to take place.

”For decades St John’s University has prided itself on its diversity. Yet, continues to allow certain unacceptable treatment to it’s minority students. 12% of the student population identifies as Latin American yet, today on September 20th, 2018, St. John’s chose to invite ICE to it’s career fair,” an Instagram post from the group states. 

Haraya further labels ICE as “an organization that has blatantly criminalized and dehumanized Latin Americans people and their families” and called the invitation “incredibly insensitive and disrespectful to our Latin American students.”

The photo in Haraya’s Instagram post shows two clenched fists and two more hands joined together. The text in the image reads, “Respect existence or expect resistance.” 

On September 20, The Torch quoted St. John’s spokesman Brian Browne as saying that ICE’s attendance at the career fair “could benefit students in a variety of majors.”

“St. John’s has several majors, including Homeland Security and Criminal Justice that present students with career opportunities in the area of immigration. For students in these majors, this may involve employment by several federal agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Browne told the student newspaper. 

”It would not serve our priority of ensuring student success if we inhibit the ability of these students to pursue relevant career opportunities. Students studying at St. John’s today may someday become a force for meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform within ICE,” Browne added. 

Campus Reform reached out to St. John’s University for a comment but did not hear back in time for publication. 

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