Federal employee on campus wasn’t an ICE agent, says Cornell

A statement from Cornell University on Tuesday says rumors of an I.C.E. agent on campus were incorrect. A visitor to campus was conducting a routine background check for a job applicant.

“Earlier today, an independent contractor for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) arrived on the Ithaca campus to conduct a routine background check related to an individual’s application for a job with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” said a statement from President Martha E. Pollack.

“When the contractor identified himself at a visitor booth, a false rumor quickly circulated across campus and on social media that the visitor was an officer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It is understandable, in light of recent, local action by ICE, that this news—while inaccurate—would be met with great concern.”

President Pollack goes on to reassure students that “Cornell will continue to vigilantly protect the privacy of student information and records from any unauthorized disclosure in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”

“I also want to remind you, as previously stated by former president Hunter Rawlings, that while Cornell representatives, including Cornell University Police Department, will comply with lawfully issued subpoenas and warrants, it is neither the university’s practice nor expectation to function as an agent of the federal government regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws. I firmly stand behind that position.”

Cornell declined to answer our specific questions about this morning’s situation.

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