An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in 2011, via U.S. Department of Homeland Security

For the last nine years, Johns Hopkins University has partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other public agencies and associations on training programs within the School of Education, in a program called the Division of Public Safety Leadership. Now, citing ICE’s deportation and detention policies under the Trump administration, students, faculty, alumni and community members are calling on Hopkins to end the partnership immediately.

A petition calling for an end to their agreement began circulating last week, weeks after a flurry of reports that ICE separated thousands of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border over the spring and was holding some of them in cages.

Addressed to Hopkins president Ronald Daniels, the petition says “ICE has imposed a brutal policy of raids, deportations and family separations of immigrants, some of whom are apprehended at the border, some of whom have lived peaceably here in our country for decades.”

It also references “scholars of the Holocaust” who say the conditions for such detentions meet “the conditions considered definitive of concentration camps: indefinite detention without trial on the basis of identity.”

“As a private university Johns Hopkins is under no obligation to collaborate with, support or enable ICE,” the petition reads. “Given the extent and extremity of its cruel practices and the scale of ongoing human rights charters which ICE continues to violate, we do not see how in good conscience Johns Hopkins University can collaborate with this organization. Accordingly, we urge you to sever the ties that currently connect our two institutions together.”

A student group that has opposed the thorny issue of JHU getting its own private police force has thrown its support behind the petition.

“We are more than dismayed that Hopkins has been working with ICE, and oppose this partnership, especially in light of the worsening abuses within the past two years and the recent developments around deportation,” Students Against Private Police said in an emailed statement this week.

Per a Hopkins website, the Division of Public Safety Leadership also has ties to the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association and the Center of Excellence for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response (PACER), which is funded by ICE’s parent agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Notably, the program is already planning to shut down by the end of next year, as reported by The Sun in February. School of Education Dean Christopher Morphew cited declining enrollment, faculty turnover and “lack of programmatic focus,” in the newspaper’s words, as reasons for the closure.

Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea said in a statement that the Division of Public Safety Leadership has “taught leadership and management courses and workshops to employees of police departments, law enforcement agencies and other public safety organizations at the local, state and federal levels for more than 20 years,” with a contract open to ICE and other DHS agencies.

In another example of Hopkins’ partnerships with federal agencies, he pointed to the School of Medicine’s Center for Law Enforcement Medicine program, which “provides physician oversight and education for federal personnel who are cross-trained as paramedics and emergency medical technicians.” That contract includes ICE, the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service.

A thorough database compiled by Sludge, an investigative publication from the blockchain-based outlet Civil, indicates Hopkins has collected more than $1.5 million from its contracts with ICE.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Hopkins had collected nearly $1.6 billion from its contracts with ICE. We regret the error.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...