Updated: Friday, 22 Feb 2013, 7:50 PM EST
Published : Friday, 22 Feb 2013, 7:50 PM EST
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- Yale University has tabled a research project backed by the Department of Defense because of controversy over who the test subjects would be.
The $1.8M center would rely on local immigrants and that's making some New Haven activists angry.
The idea from the Yale School of Medicine is this: create a research program teaching military personnel better ways to communicate with foreign citizens using local immigrants. The proposal has generated a firestorm of controversy.
"I guess in a way they try to, ah, seperate our community more," said Edgar Catalan Sandova.
Edgar Catalan Sandova, an undocumented citizen living in Fair Haven, says this program, labeled the "center for operational neuroscience," creates a level of unrest among many in the Latino community. Kica Matos with Washington D.C-based "Center for Community Change" agrees.
"We are troubled by the racist overtones of this, it's not just they want to use immigrants as lab-rats, it's also that they are specifically targeting immigrants of color," said Matos.
Yale responds just not on camera. Releasing this statement, "In light of the issues raised, we are not moving forward with any such center until we have fully investigated all these issues. It is a very important value of both the Yale School of Medicine and the broader University that all research participants, including all members of the New Haven community, are given the higest respect and protected from any unethical treatment."
"To us it's ethically and morally repulsive, to engage in this project and that is one of the things that troubles a lot of people in this community, right? You are dealing with a particularly vulnerable population," said Matos.
So a program that was or supposed to be, isn't for now. But even if this plan is just on paper it's still angering to many.
"I think Yale's relationship to this community is marginal at best," said Matos.
"We are easy prey for them," said Sandova.
The Department of Defense has weighed in on this issue, saying, quote, "U.S. Special Operations Command has not and will not provide Yale funds to establish a center for operational neuroscience."
They go on to say they apologize to Yale, the student body, and the citizens of New Haven, for any erroneous information.