Students seek immigration detainee’s release

A group of Cornell students has launched a campaign to free a Salvadoran woman, whom they befriended through a class focused on refugees and immigration, from an immigration detention center.

Artwork and a letter from Salvadoran refugee Ingrid Hernandez-Franco to English professor Jane Juffer’s class.

The class, Refugees and the Politics of Vulnerability: Intersections of Feminist Theory and Practice (GOVT 3401), is taught by Jane Juffer, professor of English and feminist, gender and sexuality studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Juffer met Ingrid Hernandez-Franco in 2019, when she and a group of students traveled to the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, to work with a number of asylum seekers there. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the class was only able to meet with detainees through video calls.

“What really impacted me was hearing Ingrid discuss her experiences as a queer detainee,” said Zasu Scott ’22, a policy analysis and management major in the College of Human Ecology. “She was fleeing violence (in San Salvador), came here to get away from this violence and we’ve detained her in a system that amplifies that violence” because of continued homophobia and discrimination Hernandez-Franco said she faces at the detention center.

Scott and the other students have started a petition on The Action Network, which has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.

Read the full story of the students’ effort on the Arts and Sciences website.

Kathy Hovis is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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