Two Western Michigan University students reported sightings of notices that appeared to be from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the week of Oct. 16.
These notices, which ICE confirmed to be fake, advised that it is a “right as an American citizen to report Immigrants/Aliens that reside in the United States illegally,” and featured a phone number and website for ICE.
WMU Junior Samantha Lee spotted a sign on the community posting pole in front of Wood Hall, posted a photo on social media, and decided to tear it down afterward.
“I thought people would like to know that these ads were popping up on our campus,” Lee said. “I immediately thought that was ICE themselves putting that up at our school, which would be terrifying.”
A typo in the phone number leads the caller to a phone sex hotline, and ICE officials confirmed that these signs are fake, stating via e-mail:
“These immigration enforcement notices were not issued or sanctioned in any way by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Just like false reports of immigration checkpoints or random sweeps, notices like these are dangerous and irresponsible. Any person who actively incites panic or fear of law enforcement is doing a disservice to the community, endangering public safety and the very people they claim to support and represent.”
Additionally, these posters had no sticker or stamp from the WMU Office of Student Engagement, who must approve any and all posters posted on campus, said Administrative Assistant Senior Terri Riemland.
“All flyers are supposed to be approved through our office, whether that’s ones posted on the concrete kiosks or in any of the buildings on campus,” Riemland said. “However, a lot of organizations don’t listen to [that].”
Signs without a stamp of approval from the Office of Student Engagement will be torn down by landscaping. These stamps should always be in a prominent place on the front of a flyer, said Riemland.
“It's comforting to know that it wasn’t something approved by the school, and that it wasn’t from ICE themselves, but who would think that this was a fun joke to do?” Lee said.
Sophomore Paunai Chapman saw the signs as well, and is even more infuriated knowing that they are fake.
“The word illegal bothers me,” Chapman said. “I feel very overprotective of people, that’s why I’m a resident assistant. I like being there for people. It's really upsetting knowing that people are out to get others.”
As for now, the verdict is out on what party is responsible for inciting fear on campus with these fake postings.