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Hundreds gather downtown for immigration march

Protesters rally in support of DACA and call for ‘divestment from deportation’

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Anne Marie Butler attended Wednesday night’s “March to Defend DACA and Divest from Deportation” because she believes President Trump’s move to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is “inhumanely cruel.”

DACA, an executive order established by the Obama administration in 2012, let certain eligible undocumented immigrants who came into the country as minors live and work legally in the United States for renewable two-year periods.

UB President Satish Tripathi expressed support for DACA in a statement issued Wednesday.

“All students, including DACA students across our state and our nation, should have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals and their professional aspirations. Our mandate as a public research university is to contribute to the educated citizenry that is so critical to a robust democracy,” Tripathi said in the statement.

Roughly 200 people attended the Wednesday evening protest, which kicked off with a rally at Trinity Episcopal Church on Delaware Avenue, followed by a march to the corporate headquarters of Delaware North where local Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices are located. ICE is the government agency that enforces all federal laws regarding border control, customs, trade and immigration.

The seventh floor of Delaware North houses the Enforcement and Removal branch of ICE, which is responsible for deportations. Protesters believe Jeremy Jacobs, UB Council Chairman and Delaware North Chairman own the building and therefore profit from ICE’s lease money. 

However, Delaware North is not the owner of The Delaware North Building and therefore does not determine the leasing of other spaces in the building. Uniland Development Company, a separate entity from the Delaware North food service corporation owned by Jacobs, owns the Delaware North Building. 

“We hope for a resolution that enables and encourages dreamers to continue their many contributions to our universities, our companies, and our social diversity,” Jacobs said in a statement.

 In addition to voicing support for DACA, protesters hoped to “shed light” on the purported connections between Jacobs and ICE.

“People [such as Jacobs] who have a lot of influence over UB goings on and money control are also making money off of leasing to ICE, and you know that space is not cheap. So they’re basically profiting off things that hurt our communities and having a real impact on families,” Butler said.

A Delaware North spokeswoman said Jacobs makes no money off of ICE's tenancy. A post on the watchdog website LittleSis noted Delaware North does control more than 70 percent of the space in the building.

Protesters chanted, “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and carried signs with phrases such as “keep the kids, deport the racist" and “no human being is illegal.”

Elif Ege, a graduate student in the global gender studies department and a representative from the UB sanctuary campus movement, said she wanted to participate in the protest because she is concerned about Jacobs’ ties to UB, and what that means for international students like her.

“I’m an international student and a graduate student at UB,” Ege said. “I am worried that Jacobs’ family is serving in several different institutions at UB and these people are profiting from deportation.”

Robert Galbraith – a speaker at the rally and senior research analyst for the Public Accountability Initiative, a research group focused on corporate and government accountability –is concerned about Jacobs’ connection to UB because of UB’s large immigrant population. He feels Jacobs’ support of Trump is at odds with his responsibilities to the diverse UB student body.

“Seventeen percent of UB’s students are from out of country and benefit from DACA, which Trump just ended,” Galbraith said.

Butler feels Trump’s decision to end DACA and Jacobs’ ties with the president are “big problems” for anyone who cares about basic human rights. Jacobs donated to Trump's campaign.

“It’s a problem for anyone who wants to keep families together and understands that families and communities make our city and our state and our country stronger when they are together and can support each other,” Butler said.

Jacobs and Delaware North do not lease the space in the building to ICE, a spokeswoman said.

Correction: The original version of this article stated Jeremy Jacobs profited from ICE's tenancy in the Delaware North building. A Delaware North spokeswoman said Jacobs and Delaware North do not own the building, that the company leases space in it and that it does not determine the building's other tenants.

Maddy Fowler is the assistant features editor and can be contacted at maddy.fowler@ubspectrum.com.


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