East Lansing, MI – The Michigan State University (MSU) student government passed a bill requiring the university to notify them anytime U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are going to be on campus.
The move was made in response to a panic that was created when some students posted on social media about having seen ICE agents walking around campus, WILX reported.
It turns out that there were, in fact, three ICE agents present on campus attending a three-day course entitled “The role of U.S. Customs and Border Protections in supply chain security programs, the importing process, trade agreements and related legislation,” according to the MSU School of Journalism.
Emily Guerrant, the MSU spokeswoman, also said ICE officials were scheduled to be on campus the next day to speak to classes in the Broad Business College about career opportunities, WILX reported.
Still, the mere presence of ICE agents on campus created enough fear and anxiety among some MSU students that the student government, officially known as the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU), felt the need to intervene.
ASMSU passed a bill that requires the university to notify students two weeks in advance if ICE agents are going to be on campus, WILX reported.
However, the student government representative from MSU’s College of Engineering questioned whether the ASMSU bill made any difference and was enforceable, The State News reported.
Ryan Aridi pointed out that the 2011 memo from ICE that governs protocol for operating in “sensitive areas” like schools doesn’t not actually require ICE to notify the university that they’re coming.
“Upon my one-to-two hour analysis of the memorandum, in that section that it outlines permission and who is responsible for giving permission, I did not get [that the university must be notified] from the text,” Aridi said. “It actually has a full sentence that lists who has to give permission, and they’re all basically different governmental directors or agencies that are in charge of ICE and border security.”
If ICE isn’t required to notify MSU, then there’s no way the university can required to notify the student government two weeks prior, The State News reported.
“It’s very important, because when we pass legislation and such, we need to think about all the context,” Aridi said. “This is my conjecture — [ICE] likely wouldn’t even contact MSU, they would just kinda show up, grab their targets, and then leave as quietly and as secretly as possible... can MSU realistically enforce anything like [this bill]? I’m personally very doubtful, seeing as [ICE] is a government agency and such.”
ASMSU President Mario Kakos called the passage of the bill a huge victory despite the fact it was unclear whether it would accomplish anything.
“ASMSU represents all students, and that includes undocumented students, so we're interested in their safety and well-being in order to learn in a proactive and productive environment,” Kakos said. "This shows that we stand in solidarity with students, allies, undocumented or otherwise that we do hear their concerns, we do support them. You know, this all transpired in less than 24 hours, so we definitely plan on working more to ensure that in future cases or scenarios that may occur that we have a process in order to avoid as much mass hysteria as possible."
Some students remained disturbed by the social media noise surrounding the ICE agents on campus.
"I saw it on a friend's story through Snapchat and then I thought like 'is this a joke,'" Paloma Lopez, an MSU student, told WILX. “A friend there who only has a green card, he was you know, he was quiet but then he told us how he was afraid to step out of Holden Hall because he was afraid of you know stumbling upon ICE agents.”
In the wake of the unnecessary panic, an organization called Dream MSU called on MSU to have the school declared a sanctuary campus, WILX reported.