Peter Fricke, Campus Reform
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reversed its decision to participate in a career fair at the University of California-Irvine in response to a petition signed by hundreds of students.
According to the New University student newspaper, CBP’s withdrawal represents an unexpected victory for student activists, whose claims that the Border Patrol’s involvement in the Fall Career Fair this Thursday would be insensitive to undocumented students had previously failed to convince the university to rescind the agency’s invitation.
“The undocumented community is directly affected by deportation and detention policies that are carried out by Border Patrol…”
“Organizations like the US Customs and Border Patrol are the organizations that are tasked with various roles including targeting Undocumented Communities, which is against the nature of our campus’s values for welcoming communities regarding their background,” Associated Students of UC Irvine (ASUCI) President Parshan Khosravi wrote in an email to the Career Center Sunday night.
“This message right now is saying that undocumented students are not welcome,” she asserted, adding, “That’s the type of message that I do not want to see as someone who is a student on this campus, as someone who is a student leader on this campus, and [as] someone who believes in [sic] the values of our campus are inclusivity and a safe space.”
The next day, Monday morning, student Amy Yu and another individual visited the Career Center in person to voice their concerns directly to administrators. Despite their warnings that undocumented students might experience trauma and discomfort from such close proximity to law enforcement, though, the Center refused to disinvite CBP, explaining that the purpose of the fair is to provide job opportunities for all students.
“We care about and value all students. We have a diverse student body made up of individuals with many wonderful talents and personal values,” Career Center Director Suzanne Helbig told New University. “To serve all students, we bring employers to campus and let students use their own judgement to decide which ones fit their skills, interests, and values.”
Undeterred by the Career Center’s response, Yu proceeded to create a Change.org petitionin the hope of effecting CBP’s removal by appealing to a higher authority.
“We, as students from UC Irvine, are demanding that the … CBP be removed as participants [sic] for the upcoming Fall Career Fair,” the petition states. “The undocumented community is directly affected by deportation and detention policies that are carried out by Border Patrol, and having Border Patrol agents on campus is a blatant disregard to undocumented students’ safety and well-being.”
Prior to being closed amidst declarations of victory Wednesday, the petition had garnered 659 signatures in roughly two days, which was apparently enough for CBP to decide that participating in the jobs fair was not worth enduring a potentially hostile reception from UC-Irvine students.
“As of this morning, U.S. Customs & Border Patrol has decided not to attend the campus Career Fair on Thursday, Oct. 22,” UC-Irvine senior director of communications Cathy Lawhontold The College Fix Wednesday. “However, the agency will continue to utilize UCI’s Career Center on-line job postings system to list available positions for those students interested in working with CBP.”
While undocumented students may rejoice, though, others are less thrilled about losing the chance to engage with the largest law enforcement agency in the world.
“I feel that these efforts are an attempt to politicize a jobs fair that is supposed to help college students find much needed work once they graduate,” UC Irvine’s College Republicans President Rob Petrosyan told The College Fix. “If you don’t approve of U.S. Customs, don’t apply to work for them, it’s that simple.”
Petrosyan also seemed understandably confused by the assertion that CBP’s participation in the career fair would somehow jeopardize the safety of undocumented students, saying, “it’s not like the recruiters will actively be seeking to deport students.”
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