August 20, 2019 | 81° F

Rutgers community rallies in support of School of Engineering junior facing deportation

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

More than 100 students gathered at Voorhees Mall to rally in support of undocumented School of Engineering junior Carimer Andujar. Andujar is being interviewed by ICE on May 9, where she may face deportation.

Over 100 students gathered at Voorhees Mall Monday afternoon to rally in support of Carimer Andujar, a School of Engineering junior facing deportation.

The rally was also a part of A Day Without Immigrants. Community members marched from Oaxaca Park to Voorhees Mall where they rallied in support of Andujar before boarding shuttle buses to Newark to continue the protest,  according to the Facebook page.

Andujar was protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), she said. This protection expired Friday, April 12. Andujar said she filed for renewal in December, but the request has not been fulfilled.

She said she was originally under the impression her DACA had been approved, but her lawyer recently told her her DACA was, in fact, not approved.

This is alarming, she said, because it means she will be walking into a federal building for her interview on May 9 with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without any type of deportation protection.

She was called in for an interview with ICE a few months ago, she said.

“(I’m trying) ... to bring attention to the fact that I am your peer, we go to the same school, because a lot of people don’t realize the severity of the situation until it hits home, until it’s somebody that you know … I want to make it clear that this is not some kind of problem that is far off, this is here, this is now and it might be (happening) to people that you know, and it might be to people that you don’t know want to see gone,” she said.

Andujar said this reason is why they organized the rally for Monday afternoon. The purpose behind the campaign was to attempt to generate as much attention toward the cause as possible.

She said this attempt is working because so far she has received the support and help of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Democratic Congressmen Frank Pallone (NJ-6) and Bill Pascrell (NJ-6).

David Hughes, the president of Rutgers’ American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), said that the rally had two overlying purposes.

The first purpose was to defend Andujar from deportation, Hughes said.

“We have the specific purpose of allowing Carimer to continue studying at Rutgers. The Trump administration is trying to come between faculty and students, and between students and their own education, and we don’t accept that,” he said. “That attack on Carimer is an anathema to the value of Rutgers and the value of higher education altogether, so we are saying that in order to deport Carimer they are going to have to come through the faculty, obviously come through the students too.”

Hughes said that the second purpose was to practice civic efficacy and exercise free speech against governmental actions that we disagree with.

“We are defending the University as a reservoir of criticism, of descent, of free thought, of free speech and overall, of democracy,” he said. “This is no longer taken for granted, with (the Trump administration) if you want to support free speech you actually have to do it. You have to stand up, you have to bring it out onto the streets.”

Hughes said that the AAUP-AFT urges University President Robert L. Barchi to make a statement in support of Carimer Andujar on behalf of Rutgers’ administration.

“(Barchi) has made specific statements in support of our students, in support of our immigrant students, but for him to actually say to the federal government, ‘we want Carimer to stay,’ … I’d like him to say that,” he said.

Andujar said that while she has received messages of support from various professors, Barchi has yet to reach out or comment on her specific case.

University spokesperson Karen Smith released a statement when it was first publicized that Andujar had been requested to meet with ICE.

“The reported increase in immigration enforcement actions in the New Brunswick area has caused distress among members of the Rutgers community, regardless of their immigration status. Obviously, the stress and anxiety are even greater for those students who are undocumented but believe that they are afforded the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. We have been aggressive in our commitment to protecting student privacy and to providing legal resources and other assistance to any students affected by these actions and we will continue to do so,” the statement reads.

Hughes said that what seems to have worked in combating ICE is demonstrating that a certain individual has a significant amount of support in their community.

The rally consisted of multiple speakers, each stressing the importance of protecting Andujar. Senior organizer at the AAUP-AFT Sherry Wolf said they only had a few weeks to organize the rally, but that she was glad about the turnout.

“This is exactly the best part of Rutgers — our solidarity and our unity,” she said.

Wolf said the AAUP-AFT plans to extend all of the help they can to Andujar in hopes of expediting the process of having her DACA renewed.

“And of course, we are absolutely 1,000 percent standing with her on May 9 at 9 a.m. at the federal building, the ICE headquarters where she has been commanded to report to meet with the deportation officer,” Wolf said.

From here, she said, the AAUP-AFT hopes to publicize Andujar’s situation as much as possible and generate a buzz around May 9, as well as spread the hashtag #StandWithCarimer to promote her meeting. She said the union is scheduling shuttle buses from the College Avenue campus to Newark for anyone who wants to support Andujar at her interview.

Teresa Vijar, executive director of Lazos America Unida, Inc., said that she spoke at the protest today as an organizer, but also as a member of the community.

“Against injustice, everybody has to stand together. That’s what we’re doing today,” she said.

Lazos America Unida is a Mexican non-profit organization that is community partners with Rutgers’ Center for Latino Arts and Culture, according to the center’s website.

In 2006, Lazos America Unida took part in a similar Downtown New Brunswick protest on the immigration policies of former President George W. Bush’s administration, she said.

“Students and community members and professors, faculty, met together in downtown New Brunswick, so 11 years later we are here again,” Vijar said.

In that same year, her organization started its collaboration with Rutgers, she said.

Vijar said that immediately after President Donald J. Trump took office, ICE agents’ arrests of undocumented people have increased drastically.

“From the moment that he took a position in the White House, ICE has started getting more and more into New Brunswick and started detaining more people than ever,” she said. “Under (the Bush administration) back then, the same things occurred. People were stopped in the streets, people were criminalized in the streets.”

Vijar said that fighting to get undocumented immigrants proper legal representation was one of the many reasons for their presence at the protest.

“Mother Earth doesn’t belong to anybody. We are just passing by. Maybe we have like 60 years, and you spend those 60 years hating others, destroying each other? I think that is a waste of time,” she said. “You have to build something nice and something important, that is the message I want to spread with my organization.”

Chloe Dopico is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @ChloeDopico for more.

Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.

Stephen Weiss

Chloe Dopico

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