700 MSU workers won’t help immigration agents

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

East Lansing — After watching President Donald Trump unveil policies that could affect some college students, retired Michigan State University professor Ken Harrow decided to take a stand.

Harrow drafted a “statement of solidarity” in support of all students including those who are immigrants, children of immigrants and refugees. The statement also declared that signatories would not help federal authorities apprehend or deport students.

It has been signed by more than 700 people in the MSU community, which has students from 133 countries and one of the nation’s largest populations of international students. MSU officials said the school does not track the number of undocumented students on its campus of 50,000.

“The statement is telling our students we want to support and protect them,” said Harrow, who said he is a child of immigrants from Sicily.

“We are declaring our opposition to the policies which Trump has taken.”

The statement comes as stepped-up enforcement actions have led to fear in immigrant communities. A judge Wednesday temporarily blocked Trump’s revised travel ban, which prohibits granting new visas for people from six predominantly Muslim nations.

Many students are fearful of traveling abroad and not being able to return or facing deportation, Harrow said. The statement of solidarity is not a call to break the law; rather, it’s a refusal to collaborate with federal immigration authorities, he added.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, declined comment on the statement. But places of worship, medical facilities and schools, including universities, are considered “sensitive locations” under a 2011 agency memo.

“The ICE sensitive locations policy, which remains in effect, provides that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should generally be avoided, and requires either prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or exigent circumstances necessitating immediate action,” Walls said. “The Department of Homeland Security is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation.”

MSU officials said the university has established a task force of administrators who have been monitoring the impact of Trump’s immigration-related executive orders. MSU also has provided guidance and support to affected students.

“We appreciate the efforts by our faculty and staff to reinforce the core values of MSU, including diversity and inclusion,” spokesman Jason Cody said. “MSU has always believed strongly in the benefits of having a diverse and global student body and work force, and that will not change.”

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com