Summer Immigration Institute
Four years ago, Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Eric Popkin, launched the Colorado College Sociology Summer Immigration Institute in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Colorado College students assist attorneys representing immigrants in detention centers in Georgia and Louisiana that have some of worst documented conditions in the country. Students conduct intake and follow up interviews, engage in case specific research, and implement bond release and transition campaigns. For the past two years, the program also incorporated a second track in partnership with immigrant- led activist organizations in the US Southwest (Mijente in Phoenix and Grassroots Leadership in Austin). This work enables students to work on strategic community- based research projects tied to campaigns that aim to dismantle the enforcement mechanisms/policies that criminalize immigrant communities. Much of this work focuses on research on corporations providing tech support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement and detention efforts with the aim of improving corporate transparency and accountability to comply with human rights, environmental and social responsibility standards. In the past 4 years, 49 students have participated in the program and at least 50% have been students of color (a high proportion of Latinx students in particular), many low income. Four of the graduating seniors in the program were hired in the field of immigration advocacy/activism.
The three- week program:
- facilitates student engagement with community organizations addressing immigrant enforcement, criminalization, and detention through direct engagement in projects
- develops advocacy, activist, and research skills specific to immigrant rights movement work and applicable to other social justice movement work
- introduces students to potential careers focused on immigrant rights – law, research, policy, advocacy, activism – to enable students to reflect on making a “commitment to pursue the common good”