Monday, February 4, 2019

End Campus-wide E-Verify at Northwestern University, Letter to the Editor and Petition

Below is the Letter to the Editor of the Daily Northwestern from representatives of undergraduate and graduate student groups and faculty at Northwestern University.  It includes a link to a spreadsheet US Citizenship and Immigration Services produced listing the institutions of higher education that signed MOUs obligating them to use E-Verify for all employees, including student research assistants, and not just those working on a federal grant or contract.  (Some institutions are obligated to do so because of state laws.)

Please consider signing our petition
Daily Northwestern - NU leaders endanger students, employees through E-verify

Since 2009, Northwestern faculty, staff and students have voiced concerns about NU implementing a discretionary program that turns over private data from students, staff and faculty to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through a program called E-Verify. As the timeline on this matter shows, in the last decade, various NU legal and administrative officials have responded to our concerns by misrepresenting the necessity of E-Verify for those not directly employed by government contracts. We now have proof as to the shocking scope of individuals affected at NU and the false claims shared with us about the University’s need to participate.
In response to litigation under the Freedom of Information Act, we received the Memorandums of Understanding NU signed to initiate and renew its participation in E-Verify, which then-General Counsel Philip Harris refused to release last spring. Through this litigation, we received national data revealing that NU is the only research university in Illinois to participate campus-wide and that its participation is an extreme outlier: fewer than 1 percent of institutions of higher education have in fact signed these MOUs obligating campus-wide participation.
The MOUs with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prove that NU is under no legal obligation to force the vast majority of its community to provide their personal data to a Homeland Security database that, according to the ACLU, poses threats to our privacy and that violates the national criteria proposed for campuses seeking to welcome noncitizens.
In sharp contrast with hundreds of research universities in states not obligated to participate in E-Verify, NU forced over 76,000 students, staff and faculty to submit personal information to databases that share their information with third parties. Anyone employed by NU since 2010 is in this database. Our analysis of the USCIS Excel sheet itemizing NU’s submissions of our data reveals that over 190 individuals were specifically targeted by NU for Homeland Security as attempting to work without authorization approved by E-Verify. The final determinations are not yet clear; we expect to receive additional data from this litigation shortly.
As the MOUs clearly state, NU can after 30 days notice stop reporting data on all new hires who are not directly working under federal government contract. At that point, everyone who is working on a federal contract will have been already included in the E-Verify database.
The only new hires whose data would need to be submitted would be those working directly on a federal contract, which is exactly the situation of our peer institutions. If the University of Chicago (and over 99 percent of other institutions of higher education) can target only new hires working on federal contracts for E-Verify, then there is no logistical impediment to prevent NU from doing this as well.
We have been sharing our concerns with President Morton Schapiro and Provost Jonathan Holloway since last spring. On Jan. 8, 2019 we wrote a letter to them stating that, in light of NU’s stated intention to protect the educational opportunities of its noncitizen community and this new information proving the inaccuracy of claims about NU’s obligations to USCIS, we wanted them to reconsider their earlier position. We requested that NU immediately send the 30-day notice of an intent to withdraw from campus-wide participation in E-Verify. President Schapiro and Provost Holloway did not reply, though they regularly opine to The Daily their support of DACA students, a population NU’s own attorney has agreed is at special risk from E-Verify.
We write now to ask others to join us in sharing with Schapiro and Holloway your concerns by signing this petition.
Students Organizing for Labor Rights (SOLR)
Seri Lee, Weinberg 2020
Allyson Bondy, Weinberg 2020
Erykah Nava, Weinberg 2020
Sharmain Siddiqui, Weinberg 2020
Natalie Vega, Weinberg 2019
Jessica Wang, Weinberg 2019

Northwestern University Graduate Workers,
Jorge Coronado, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
President, NU-AAUP
Alessandra Visconti, Assistant Professor of Instruction, Department of French and Italian
Vice President, NU-AAUP
Jacqueline Stevens, Professor of Political Science
Secretary, NU-AAUP

Added on 2/7/2019: For links to the General Dynamics piece of the NU E-Verify story, please see this 2016 Letter to the Editor

Saturday, January 26, 2019

BITMAP Targetting Alleged "Adults" and Asylum-Seeking Children In U.S. Custody, not Terrorists

November 14, 2018 Email on BITMAP, X-Rays, and Age Reassessment, click to enlarge 
BITMAP is among the numerous global, mammoth data-collection enterprises that bring Orwell's nightmare to life.  It's supposed to "identify criminal persons, wanted subjects (including international  fugitives), and known or suspected terrorists" (House Report, p. 2).  But an email I obtained yesterday from an official in the Department of Health and Human Services through FOIA litigation reveals it is being used to target people who secretly may be ... adults.  

The email states: 
As you all know, we have a number of Bangladeshi nationals in our programs, who appear to be adults....If you have dental forensics showing 75% or greater probability that the individual is an adult, and you receive Bitmap information corroborating this, then the case meets ORR policy to make an age redetermination. -Thomas Curry, PhD, LPC-S, Federal Field Specialist Supervisor, South Texas Region, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement
This is exactly the sort of mission creep against which civil libertarians warned.  Any positive hits also are a likely source for the Trump administration claims that they've snared terrorists crossing into the U.S. from Central America, when what they meant was that a database that was sold as targetting terrorists was used to move asylum-seekers from a DHHS facility into ICE custody prior to their immigration court hearings.

Of course Trumpists will be tickled that a lying Bangladeshi adult will be removed from DHHS custody and placed into the harsher (and cheaper) ICE facilities.  Except that the data on which such a move is based is just guesswork dressed up as science.  The dental forensics are junk science and the databases are no more reliable.  

Of course Trumpists will be tickled that anyone who isn't a White national will be removed from DHHS custody and placed into the harsher (and cheaper) ICE facilities.  So let's argue about that.  

And now since we're on that topic, I just gotta say, how about offering to scrap the entire ICE budget EXCEPT for building the damn wall?  If the wall is so ineffective, then what is so "immoral" about it?  

Dream legislation for AOC to introduce: Let Trump build his beautiful concrete wall on the border as a giant monument to Byzantium.  I'll give him the shovel.  Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, asylum-seekers who show up at a port of entrance must be admitted and released on their own recognizance; no more funding for ICE's long-stay detention facilities; no more arrests at court-houses of people who may have overstayed their visas; no more bogus marriage fraud threats of petitioners; no more Kafkaesque interrogations of the birth documents of brown-skinned people; and no more BITMAP.  The U.S. fully implements the 1964 Civil Rights Act and ends discrimination based on birth. Anyone inside the United States is left alone unless they break a criminal law unrelated to their hereditary status.  

So while Trump and his gang of idiots are building their wall -- and fighting off pissed-off ranchers, etc. -- the rest of us focus on implementing policies that defeat global apartheid.  As my colleague Daniel Morales states so eloquently,
 [W]hen the undocumented break the law and enter the U.S., they not only seize the privileges of rich-world life that the U.S. chose to deny them, they also send a clear message that the American immigration system and the broader political order of which it is a part, do not meet their needs. -Daniel Morales, "Undocumented Migrants as New (and Peaceful) American Revolutionaries"  Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy (2016)
For more on the desirability of open borders, check out a new collection of essays just published by University of Georgia Press, and including a contribution from Joseph Nevins. 

Meanwhile, we need to remain vigilant about BITMAP, first passed during the Obama administration in 2011.  A bill to make it permanent passed the House in December but did not pass in the Senate, though an amended version was reported out favorably by a Senate Committee on September 5, 2018.  The ACLU, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Immigration Law Center, and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild issued an excellent explanation of its problems.

Within hours of the government opening for business, I received hundreds of pages of documents revealing how age reassessments are being performed by contractors working for the Department of Health and Human Services.  I requested these as part of a research project with the Pangea Legal Services, committed to assisting free movement, and hope to be releasing a report on our findings shortly.

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