Madison campaign against deportation

By Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

MADISON, Wis.--University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) student Tope Awe is being held in federal custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But UW students are determined not to let their classmate be deported.

Tope, who was born in Nigeria and has lived in the United States since she was 3 years old, co-founded the African Student Association and has led efforts to improve diversity on a campus whose student population is just 2 percent Black and 3 percent Latino.

Within days of her detention, Tope's friends had collected over 1,000 signatures of support for her. As Socialist Worker went to press, an emergency rally and speakout was being planned by Tope's friends and family, the African Student Association, Black Student Union, International Socialist Organization, Multicultural Student Coalition and immigrant rights activists. Meanwhile, Tope's professors have pulled together legal support for her, and Milwaukee's African Immigrant Ministry is organizing people to attend her deportation hearing.

Tope's case is far from isolated. Dane County, which includes Madison, has already deported more people in the first months of 2008 than it did in all of 2007. But the unprecedented support for Tope creates an opportunity to force ICE to back down and set a new standard of protection for immigrants in Madison.