The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating whether graduate students at Georgetown University violated federal immigration law in their work during the 2016 presidential election, according to a letter obtained by Politico.
The Office for Student Success and Institutional Equity sent the letter to Georgetown on March 3, the day the school announced it was terminating the graduate students’ status.
The letter said the office is also investigating whether the graduate student program at Georgetown violated federal employment and immigration law.
The federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has previously cited graduate students for violating immigration law, but Georgetown has not said how it determined that students were engaged in illegal activity.
A spokeswoman for the university said the school is reviewing the OCR’s letter and will respond in the coming days.
The OCR issued a similar letter in December 2017 after a former graduate student at the university was accused of violating immigration laws by participating in the protests at the inauguration.
“As you know, the Department of Justice is investigating the Ochsner v.
Georgetown Graduate Student Office for possible violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” OCR spokeswoman Michelle O’Connell wrote in a statement.
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been actively engaging the Department’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) on these matters, as well as other federal agencies and their attorneys to ensure compliance with the law and protect the civil rights of all Americans.”
Ochsenreich, a 20-year-old law student at Georgetown, told Politico she felt compelled to speak out after her former adviser told her she was a “traitor” for supporting Trump.
“I was afraid that my future at Georgetown would be destroyed by this kind of racism and hate,” O’Neil told Politico.
“When I realized I wasn’t alone in that fear, I started to ask myself: Is this something I should be worried about?
Am I going to be afraid for my future?
Am i going to have to get a job in order to pay my tuition?”
The former adviser’s comment to O’Neal that she was “traitors” came after the former graduate assistant said she felt pressured to back Trump in the face of backlash over her support for Clinton.
“He said, ‘You can do whatever you want to do, but we’ll not be involved in the campaign,'” O’Neil told Politico of her former advisor.
“And I felt like I was being threatened, that I was a traitor and I should shut up.”
O’Neill and the graduate assistant have not responded to requests for comment.
The university has previously said it does not condone illegal activity by graduate students, but the Office for the Prevention of Campus Hate (OPCH) said in a letter to the university in March 2017 that the university’s graduate student policy “does not prohibit individuals from engaging in political activity.”
The OCPH, which is comprised of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women, said that while there was “a need to address the concerns raised by graduate student activists” and to improve the university process for vetting students, the OCH does not support the termination of the graduate program.
“Graduate student activists should not be discouraged from speaking out on campus,” the OCPHS wrote in the letter.
“Students should be able to continue to pursue their education and engage in their communities without fear of being labeled as ‘traitors.'”
O’Connor, a first-year law student, said she plans to use her post-grad work experience as a legal argument against the termination.
“If I get a green card, I’m going to live my life the way I want, and I want to go to Georgetown,” she told Politico in an interview.
“It’s really hard to be a graduate student and be able [at] Georgetown.
It’s really unfair.”
Ocha, the law student who was fired, told The Daily Beast that she plans on “putting everything out there, like I did my last semester, in order for people to know how I feel.”
OCHA, who has worked at a law firm and is now working as a partner at a private equity firm, told the Daily Beast she is “shocked and angry” about the termination letter.
“[The letter] makes it clear they don’t care about me,” she said.
“They are really just trying to silence me.”
OChsenreis said that she has been contacted by several attorneys who have told her that their clients will be “very upset” if they are fired for their activism.
“We are doing what we are supposed to do,” OChsner told Politico on March 1.
“That’s what I signed up for.
I signed a contract to be able get a Green Card.
We are trying to live our lives the way we want.”