Columbia Must Cancel its Contract with Border Patrol

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Content warning: State violence against immigrants, mention of torture and death


On June 28, 2019, a Bwog article reported that there is a contract between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Columbia University that started on May 29th and will continue through November 2020. The contract was signed by Irwin Redlener, the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, who wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post defending Border Patrol agents and excusing their inhumane treatment towards immigrants. As quoted in his op-ed and in the Columbia Daily Spectator article referencing the CBP deal, Redlener claims:

“Before jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for these heartbreaking losses, there is a great deal to sort out, starting with the fact that federal agencies responsible for apprehending and assuming custody of people crossing the border illegally are beyond overwhelmed...It is in this unfathomable and unmanageable situation that the much-maligned (often unfairly) Border Patrol agents, with essentially no medical training whatsoever, are doing a thankless job that most of us would not consider taking on.”

Not only is he an apologist for the mass incarceration, but Redlener also suggests that Border Patrol agents should be thanked for the violence they are inflicting upon migrants and refugee seekers. Of course, this contract does not come as a surprise to people who are aware and have experienced Columbia’s violence towards marginalized communities, especially Black people.

However, Columbia has continuously flaunted their support for undocumented immigrants, even naming themselves a “sanctuary campus”––which, as revealed in our list of demands, was a rule already in place due to Columbia being a private school. In our list of demands, UndoCU consequently highlights the University’s inaction to ensure the safety and wellbeing of undocumented people on campus:

“While the university’s PR since the 2016 election has managed to convince everyone, except actual undocumented people, of how much they want us present, their lack concrete actions suggests to us that undocumented students are not a concern. However, we are also a fundraising tool for the university, despite our decision to be an unrecognized independent group, as recent actions of appropriation of our labor have demonstrated.”


Now, Columbia is getting money from the lives of immigrant children and families at the border. Columbia University gets $150,000 from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol––an agency that is responsible for the deaths of children, Indigenous, and queer migrants. They are helping an agency that puts the lives of millions in danger as a way to “redeem” them.  U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL AND ICE ARE NOT REDEEMABLE. THESE AGENCIES TORTURE AND KILL PEOPLE OF COLOR INTENTIONALLY, NOT BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH FUNDS FOR MEDICAL SERVICES. Thus, we demand for Columbia to cut ties with CBP and fund organizations that are actually providing medical services for immigrants. We demand for Irwin Redlener to be fired, as well as Ixchel Rosal, the liason that constantly lies to undocumented students telling them that Columbia University protects and seeks the wellbeing of undocumented people.