Johns Hopkins University and Hospital (JHU) is in the news recently for not only engaging in union busting, but also profiting from contacts with ICE

This is a continuation of a practice we began in July of 2018, naming businesses in Montgomery County that profit from the deportation of immigrants and the policing of migrants. We previously shared a report by Sludge journalists Alex Kotch and Josefa Velasquez that pinpointed businesses providing contract services to ICE. You might call this a form of public shaming for deportation profiteers.

Now we open our perspective to Maryland at large and, in particular, Johns Hopkins for profiting over $7,000,000 in ICE contracts over the years 2008-present. SocialistWorker.org reports the university is currently making over $1,700,000/year with just three contacts.

The campaign to cancel the partnership between ICE and Johns Hopkins began after JHU Professor Drew Daniel authored a petition that stated, in part:

“Given the extent and extremity of its cruel practices and the scale of ongoing human rights charters which ICE continues to violate, we do not see how in good conscience Johns Hopkins University can collaborate with this organization,”

The planning for a rally and teach in was organized by coalition between members of the Baltimore International Socialist Organization (ISO) and Party for Liberation and Socialism (PSL) and organizations like Students Against Private Police (SAPP) and Teachers and Researchers United (TRU) and Jews United for Justice.

SocialistWorker.org details the coalition’s work and escalation:

The coalition’s first action began as an early morning “play date” — a symbolic manifestation of the slogan that families belong together — outside the Eisenhower Library, where students, faculty and community members with their children chalked on the sidewalk and participated in a song circle.

First a relatively quiet action, the action soon shifted into a march to the JHU president’s office to deliver the petition, with participants chanting, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! These ICE contracts have got to go!”

Among the speakers were the partner of Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel, a JHU librarian whom the university served a 10-day notice that she would have to return to Britain after the JHU administration failed to renew her visa. (Instead of fighting on her behalf, Hopkins reportedly did not submit Mahoney-Steel’s application based on the belief that the Trump administration would reject it.)

In the interim weeks, while awaiting a response from the administration to the petition, the coalition kept up the pressure by flyering and protesting outside the JHU president’s eponymous “Day of Service,” demanding that the president do a real “service” to the community by ending his support for Trump’s deportation regime.

The University’s response was to defend contracts with ICE on the basis of protecting “academic freedom” and the egregious argument that “medical training is ultimately benefiting those who interact with ICE.”

The coalition argued back that the JHU courses were taught by part-time instructors without any say in the direction of or the audience of the courses. Even further, they argued the courses aren’t academic venues of intellectual discussion or learning — they are “training programs which enable human rights abuses.”

JHU alumni and organizations like the ACLU of Maryland came out in support of the coalition’s demands, the latter encouraging a divestment from the university until the contracts in question are terminated.

Before the rally and teach-in, the Baltimore ISO hosted a public forum titled “How Hopkins Abets the War on Immigrants,” to discuss ways the capitalist class uses borders to control labor in order to maximize profits. Importantly,  the ISO organizers noted that, “…our allegiance is with the working classes of all nations, not the ruling elites of any one nation.”

Coalition partners TRU and SAAP linked the repression of immigrants by ICE with their own respective struggles for rights in the workplace and against militarization on campus.

This is a crucial aspect of socialist organizing — organizing not just in one area of civil society, but along a broad range of issues that are inherently linked to the problems raised by societal relations under capitalism.


The struggle for workplace rights at JHU continues as registered nurses are campaigning to form a union with National Nurses United (NNU).

NNU filed a labor complaint in June 2018 alleging JHU was barring nurses who were off the work clock from visiting other nurses in other departments who were at work but on their break. They also claim the hospital hired an anti-union consultant to wage a war against union organizing.

In October, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found merit to the charges that JHU’s actions violated federal labor law.

If Johns Hopkins officials refuse to agree to a settlement on the charges, the NLRB will issue a formal complaint against the hospital.

At a press conference held by NNU, RN Alex Laslett said, “We are coming together to address safe staffing, pay, benefits, and working conditions—all of which affect our ability to provide quality patient care. Management should not be paying so much money to stop us from talking to each other.”

National Nurses United is the largest nurses’ union and professional association in the U.S., representing 150,000 registered nurses. Interestingly, according to the Baltimore Sun, most nurses in Maryland are not represented by a union.

For further context, NNU recently opened an office in downtown Silver Spring and there are multiple hospitals in the immediate vicinity that employ hundreds of workers ready to be organized.


So ends this segment of “Who are the ICE Collaborators in Your Neighborhood?” We are happy to share the hard work of organizers taking up the struggle for immigrants’ rights and elaborating how it connects to their own work. It is this author’s belief that this will be a paramount strategy for socialist power in Montgomery County — to connect social movements in civil society to an emancipatory vision and strategy for a socialist future.

If you know of businesses engaging in anti-immigrant or any other behaviors that are anti-worker, racist or otherwise, report it to us: mococommonwealth@gmail.com

by Erik O. Write


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