General Questions and Concerns about UMD’s ICE Contract
The following answers were provided by UMD’s Office of Strategic Communications
What active contracts does the university have with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency?
- The university currently has one active academic contract with the Homeland Security Investigations Division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The contract covers up to 25, two-day training sessions where university researchers present terrorism-related research findings to homeland security investigators who are sent to U.S. Embassies abroad. The contract runs through March 31, 2022.
- It is important to note that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is made up of three divisions: Management and Administration; Homeland Security Investigations, and Enforcement and Removal Operations. This contract is with the Homeland Security Investigations division, not the Enforcement and Removal Operations division.
What does the contract entail?
- The contract is for the university’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) to provide cultural competency and counterterrorism training to homeland security special agents who are stationed at embassies abroad and who will work with the interagency Embassy team on counterterrorism investigations. START is to provide at least two (up to five), two-day training seminars each year for five years to help equip these investigators with unbiased, science-based knowledge on the origins, ideologies and methods associated with international terrorism, as well as cultural awareness training.
- The training seminars feature empirical research on terrorism, based on START’s thirteen years of unclassified, academic inquiry on the subject, and more than 160 completed and ongoing research projects. Drawing from the findings of those projects, the training seminars are created and led by START personnel. Like START’s research agenda, the training seminars are not specific to any one ideology or ethno-linguistic group, but look at the phenomenon of terrorism irrespective of the ideology that motivates it.
- While the training seminar focuses on providing homeland security investigators with an overview of terrorism and the nature of the terrorist threat in their regions of responsibility and worldwide, the longest block of instruction is dedicated to providing those officers with cultural awareness training, which addresses topics such as cultural sensitivities, naming conventions and common social norms that inform interpersonal cross-cultural communication and are relevant to law enforcement-citizen encounters.
Who participates in these trainings?
- The training that UMD is providing is for homeland security investigators who are stationed at embassies abroad and who work with the interagency Embassy team on counterterrorism investigations. The training is led by William Braniff, Director of START, who has made it his personal mission over the last 13 years to displace racist and Islamophobic counterterrorism ‘training’ by taking every opportunity to provide training that is based on high-quality, objective research and subject matter expertise – first at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and for the last seven years at START.
How did this contract get obtained?
- Given START’s past performance and reputation as a leader in the academic study of global terrorism, in June 2017, the Department of Homeland Security invited START to provide a quote and statement of work for the Homeland Security Investigation division’s Visa Security Program Visa Security Investigations Course. START submitted a quote and statement of work and was awarded the contract.
Why does UMD provide training to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Will UMD enter into any future contracts with them?
- The university’s values of diversity and inclusion, tolerance and intellectual freedom, and our commitment to our students, remain unwavering. As a public research institution it is our mission to advance knowledge in areas of importance to the state, the nation, and the world using research-based, data-driven and nonpartisan methods. This includes working with a variety of federal agencies.
- START aims to provide counterterrorism policymakers and practitioners, such as the homeland security investigators who partake in this training, with the highest quality, data-driven research findings on the human causes and consequences of terrorism in an effort to ensure that homeland security policies and operations reflect these science-based, non-partisan, non-politicized understandings about human behaviors.
- Without the involvement of nonpartisan research universities, contracts like these could instead be awarded to groups and organizations with a clear political agenda. It is because of our values of diversity and inclusion, tolerance and intellectual freedom, the role of science in policy and practice, and our commitment to our students, that we do the work that we do, in the way that we do it.
Has UMD had contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the past?
- The university has had prior academic contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute at the University of Maryland conducted training programs on the storage, labeling and incident handling of hazardous materials. As an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-recognized program, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute has offered this training for a variety of federal agencies and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Secret Service, NIST, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. military operating across the globe.
- The contract was for eight, 5-day, and 40-hour safety training courses for customs officials to provide information on how to detect, identify and handle any hazardous substances entering the United States from abroad. The contract expired in September 2018.
What is the universities and/or University of Maryland Police Department’s relationship with the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
- The University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) does not conduct inquiries about an individual’s citizenship in the regular course of their work. The only exception to this is when UMPD inquiries about an individual’s citizenship in order to make mandated consular notifications to an individual’s home country. Consular notifications are required by federal law as a part of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
- In terms of the Concurrent Jurisdiction Agreement that the University of Maryland has with Prince George’s County, UMPD’s policies are consistent whether they are on campus or off. Similar to Prince George’s County’s procedures, University of Maryland officers do not honor U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers without a warrant. However, UMPD does not have the legal authority to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from conducting operations within the City of College Park.
- We value our diverse campus community. Every day members of the University of Maryland Police Department work tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of our campus community. UMPD is a service-oriented agency. Our priority is in keeping our campus safe and being a resource for those who need help.
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