Janet Napolitano Rejects Calls to Sever Ties With Defense Contractor

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Photo courtesy of Bill Koplitz.

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UC President Janet Napolitano has announced that the UC system will not sever ties with General Dynamics Information Technology—a defense contractor that works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—despite requests from labor unions and the UC Student Association (UCSA).

On June 8, UC-AFT—the labor union that represents UC faculty and librarians—sent a letter to Napolitano calling on her to end the UC system’s contracts with defense contractor General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), which administers the UC system’s Analytical Writing Placement Exam to prospective UC students.

GDIT helps staff the US Office of Refugee Resettlement, tasked with carrying out the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, which required refugee children to be separated and detained separately from their family.

In addition to GDIT, the UC system has temporary contracts with Maxim Healthcare Services for lab technicians. Maxim provides healthcare to South Texas Family Residential Center, an ICE detention center that detains immigrant families.  

UCSA and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, the largest labor union in the UC system, released letters supporting UC-AFT’s message.

On June 26, Napolitano released a letter to UC-AFT stating that the UC system will not end its relationship with GDIT, because the contractor is not directly involved with the family separation policy.

“Ending our contract at this moment would be detrimental and disruptive not only to UC but to thousands of new and prospective students,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano also touted her opposition to the family separation policy and reaffirmed her support for immigration reform. However, during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, she helped write the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and oversaw over 1.5 million deportations.

“Napolitano’s unwillingness to even explore divestment from the same company that incarcerates migrant children shows that as former DHS secretary and current UC President, her rhetoric in support of the undocumented community is simply that—rhetoric,” said UCSA Campaign Committee Chair Dominick Williams.

Ethan Coston is an Assistant News Editor for The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books.

Correction: This article was updated on August 22, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.  from ‘requires children to be separated’ to ‘required children to be separated’.