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Local Activists confront GRPS because of their partnership with Homeland Security

January 8, 2019

If anyone is familiar with this blog, then they know that there has been dozens of posts in the past two years dedicated to investigating the presence of the Department of Homeland Security in Grand Rapids, specifically ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

We have investigated where ICE has offices in Kent County and which companies have contracts with them. We have also written a great deal about the Kent County Sheriff Department’s contract with ICE, a contract which could expire at the end of September 2019.

Now, because of the work of local activists with GR Rapid Response to ICE and Movimiento Cosecha GR, there is new information about the partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

In an article posted on January 5th from MLive, we learn about all these new ways that the Grand Rapids Public Schools are diversifying to create career opportunities for students. In the section headlined Academy of Hospitality & Tourism it states:

Grand Rapids schools is partnering with hospitality and tourism industry leaders  on a new Academy of Hospitality & Tourism launching the 2019-20 school year.

The college-prep academy will be among six planned at Ottawa Hills High School, 2055 Rosewood& Ave. SE. A culinary program will be added eventually to the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism after some building renovations.   

The other academies planned are:

  •  Academy of Advance Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management
  • Academy of Public Safety, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
  • Academy Physical Therapy and Sports Management
  • Academy of Media Production
  • Academy of Cosmetology 

When activists asked the GRPS about this fact, they replied:

There is a huge talent need in the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Police Department and Grand Rapids Fire Department. Also, Grand Rapids is a designated cyber security hub with well paying jobs.

Activists were pointing out how the GRPS having this kind of a relationship with the Department of Homeland Security is highly problematic, since there are literally thousands of students in the GRPS system who have parents who are part of the undocumented and under-documented community.

In checking the Department of Homeland Security site with relationships they have with High Schools, this is what I was able to find under the heading ICE Pathways Programs

On Dec. 27, 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13562 – Recruiting and Hiring Students and Recent Graduates. This Executive Order established the Internship Program and Recent Graduates Program, which, along with the Presidential Management Fellows Program, are collectively known as the Pathways Programs.

ICE also has a Student Volunteer Program. This program is not part of the Pathways Program, but provides volunteer opportunities for students. Learn more about our Student Volunteer Program.

Now, some of these programs are geared toward college students, but there are opportunities for high school students. One opportunity is what is called the Internship Program. The description here makes it clear that high school students are welcomed to participate, where it could lead to career opportunities.

The Internship Program replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). This Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service.

This is all very disturbing news, but it is consistent with the GRPS, which has been increasing their partnership with the Grand Rapids Police Department to increase provide students with increased opportunities to be directed into a career as a cop.

We hope that this new information about how the Department of Homeland Security and ICE is weaving itself into our public institutions, will not only create greater awareness, but will mobilize students, parents, teachers and community members to challenge this unjust and dangerous partnership.

Because of the new relationship between the Department of Homeland Security/ICE and the Grand Rapids Public Schools, we felt it was time for us to update our Matrix of ICE in Kent County graphic.




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