UConn Pairs Students with Activist Groups for ‘Immigrant Justice’

A sign with the words "Abolish ICE" depicting someone's rear end defecating on the word "ICE" in an apparent insult to the immigration enforcement agency. (Credit: Michelle Moons/Breitbart News)
Michelle Moons

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is offering a course focused on “immigrant justice,” which has students partner with “activist groups,” but the school will not disclose which groups are involved, citing a risk of them being targeted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The UConn Latino and Latin American Studies department is offering a one-credit course, entitled, “LLAS 3990: Organizing for Immigrant Justice” during the spring semester, according to a report by the school’s student-run newspaper, the Daily Campus.

The course will reportedly have students partner with Connecticut activism groups through an immigration activism project.

“Students will have the opportunity to work with local activist groups in Connecticut to participate in organizing projects that support immigrants,” said Anne Gebelein, associate director of UConn’s El Instituto.

“The class discussion will focus on our understanding of how and why people come together over immigration, and the work they do to improve conditions, promote legislation, educate others or provoke needed change,” added Gebelein.

Gebelein added that she believes this course is important in order to combat “anti-immigrant sentiment” in the United States.

“Anti-immigrant sentiment is very high in this historical moment and given the border crisis, it has a Latino face,” she said. “This is of deep concern to faculty and students in [the Latino and Latin American Studies department] and we want to be of assistance to folks who are trying to educate others and improve people’s safety and quality of life in [Connecticut].”

“We need to be partners with the community in this education process, learn from each other and combine our expertise to make our state a welcoming one,” added Gebelein. “We want immigrants here to realize their full potential, strengthen our communities and our economy.”

Grace Lemire, an undergraduate student facilitating the class, added that “students will also engage in an organizing project of their choice to support immigrants and local activist groups in [Connecticut].”

But when asked which activist groups the students will be working with, Gebelein declined to answer, citing a risk of the groups being “targeted by ICE,” according to a report by Campus Reform.

“Some of our community partners prefer to stay under the radar, as they don’t want to be targeted by ICE,” said Gebelein. “It’s a long story. But we would rather not name our principal partner in the press.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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