Open letter from Latin American Studies against ICE modifications to student and exchange visitor program

Open letter from Latin American Studies against ICE modifications to student and exchange visitor program

The study of Latin America at Macalester College began as an attempt to foment inter-American dialogue and exchange during coordinated hemispheric cooperation during World War II. In 1950, the college began to fly the flag of the United Nations as an extension of this ethos of international solidarity. Latin American Studies emerged as a crucial component of this commitment to internationalism in subsequent decades, eventually becoming a “core studies” program and then a major field during the 1990s. In its inception, as today, the Program has emphasized the importance of social justice and the uncovering of systems of oppression and inequality alongside underscoring the potential of hemispheric engagement. 

It is in this spirit that the Macalester College Latin American Studies Program condemns the cruel and outrageous US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) decision to restrict student visas dependent on in-person learning. 

This decision represents the latest in a series of policies pursued by the Trump administration that are based in xenophobic sentiment. It is not an isolated case nor is it coming out of the blue. While historians have long observed that xenophobic utterances expand during election years, the Trump administration has relentlessly and continuously pursued such discriminatory practices for political gain. From Donald Trump’s openly anti-immigrant launch of his presidential campaign in 2015, through his call to build the wall on the southern U.S. border and the subsequent creation of inhuman detention centers, from the ban on Muslim immigrants, the heartless attacks on DACA (recently rejected by the Supreme Court), and most recently, the threat to deploy military force against peaceful protestors 

following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, such actions have exacerbated and legitimized systemic racism and inequality in the service of white supremacy. 

Like all groups targeted by Trump’s bigotry, international students are valued members of both the Macalester and the broader community. While much of the discourse criticizing ICE’s move has focused upon the financial impact of this decision, we want to highlight the crucial contributions these students make to our classes and to community partnerships both locally and transnationally. As such, the benefits of their presence in our classrooms and in our society are unquantifiable and would be lost without them. Moreover, this policy threatens their ability to succeed academically at Macalester and freely pursue their professional goals and dreams. 

Therefore, the Latin American Studies Program commits to working with Macalester, our professional organizations, and our students to seek to reverse ICE’s decision. We also commit ourselves to uphold the principles of equity, human rights, diversity and inclusion that we have long stood for and that our students deserve. 

Ernesto Ortiz-Díaz, Director of Latin American Studies and Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese 

Erika Busse-Cardenas, Assistant Professor of Sociology 

Ernesto Capello, Professor of History and Latin American Studies 

Eric Carter, Edens Associate Professor of Geography and Global Health 

Amy Damon, Professor of Economics and Latin American Studies 

Paul Dosh, Associate Professor of Political Science 

Olga González, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Associate Dean of the Kofi Annan Institute of Global Citizenship 

Xavier Haro-Carrion, Berg Postdoctoral Fellow of Geography 

Alicia Muñoz, Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies 

Molly Olsen, Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies 

Mario Solis-Garcia, Associate Professor of Economics and Latin American Studies 

Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, Chair and Professor of Theater and Dance