UPDATED: UT Young Conservatives Plan to Play 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant'
UPDATED: The UT Young Conservatives have called off the "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" game slated to be held Wednesday after the event was decried by pretty much every one, including University of Texas President Bill Powers and both major political parties.
Lorenzo Garcia, the head of the group, said they cancelled the event because of concerns "that the university will retaliate against them and that the protest against the event could create a safety issue for our volunteers," according to the Austin American Statesman.
Powers stated that, since the country was founded on immigration, they needed to try and be sensitive to the issue. "Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration. I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students."
Garcia and the UT Young Conservatives complied, so it looks like there will not be any illegal immigrant hunting on the UT campus on Wednesday.
This is the time of year when the Pilgrims and their big immigration way back when are in everyone's thoughts (mostly because it created an entire holiday revolving around pie) but the Young Conservatives of Texas of the University of Texas has taken this immigration thing to a whole other level.
At noon Wednesday, the group has scheduled an event called, "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game" where the participants will compete to catch people in designated shirts with a $25 gift card awarded to anyone who nabs an "illegal immigrant" and turns in said immigrant to the Young Conservatives.
While some might see the event as a joke made in incredibly poor taste about a complex issue in this country, it's totally just supposed to make people on the UT campus start talking about immigration, according to the group's Facebook page. "The purpose of the event is to spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives," according to the Facebook description of the event. More than 200 people are planning to attend the event.
While some people may be all excited to go "illegal immigrant" hunting, not everyone is thrilled with this event going down. "Our worry is that other groups will try to imitate the YCT and the hate they are spreading which could lead to further actions," Cesar Espinosa, executive director of FIEL Houston Inc., stated in a release issued Monday. "We believe that the struggles that we face on a day to day basis is no joking matter."
Hair Balls tried to reach the UT branch of the Young Conservatives of Texas to get their take on this, but haven't heard back yet. The group is headed up by Lorenzo Garcia, a former campaign field director for state Attorney General Greg Abbott (aka the guy who is running for governor.) Garcia hasn't returned a call for comment.
But while the organizers have yet to be heard from, the University of Texas has already issued a statement decrying the game.
A sampler from UT's outraged statement:
"If the members of YCT carry out their plan for 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant,' they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture. And once again, they will have resorted to exercising one of the university's core values to the detriment of others. Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives."
And for those not inclined to participate in the game, there will be an alternative thanks to the Houston-based activist organization, the Librotraficantes. Members of the Librotraficantes are headed to the UT campus on Wednesday where they will be engaging in a game called, "You're All Immigrants." In their game, descendants of "illegal pilgrims" will self-deport themselves to the UT Young Conservatives to collect the $25 reward.
"I hope the students in the UT Young Conservatives club cashed their student loans there will be way more immigrants than they ever imagined," Tony Diaz, of the Librotraficantes, said.
And just in time for Thanksgiving too.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.