If the right is eager to reinforce the impression that conservatives are openly hostile towards immigrants, stories like these from my MSNBC colleague Aliyah Frumin are probably seen as helpful.
A conservative group at the University of Texas at Austin is coming under fire for plans to hold a controversial event called “Catch an Illegal Immigrant.”The school’s chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas posted the details of what it bills as a “game” to its Facebook page on Monday.According to the post – written by chairman Lorenzo Garcia – several people will be walking around the school’s campus with the words “illegal immigrant” printed on their clothing. Any student who “catches” one of the so-called “illegal immigrants” and brings them back to the student organization’s table will receive a $25 gift card.
Lorenzo Garcia, it’s worth noting, is a former aide to state Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott.
If this sounds familiar, there’s a good reason for that. As Esther Yu-Hsi Lee explained, “In 2005, the Young Conservatives of the University of North Texas awarded candy bars to students who ‘captured’ people posing as undocumented immigrants. In 2006, about 100 students protested the ‘Catch the illegal immigrant’ game jointly organized by the Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan after the ‘game’ was suggested by Morgan Wilkins, a former field representative for the College Republican National Committee. And in 2007, several hundred people protested student Republican groups at New York University and the University of Iowa when players searched on campus for students wearing an ‘illegal immigrant’ insignia.”
Apparently, it’s spreading.
The chair of UT’s Young Conservatives of Texas said the goal of this latest “game” is to “spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.”
How would this be conducive to a serious policy discussion? Your guess is as good as mine. Indeed, it’s probably fair to say the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter isn’t entirely sincere about their dialogic goals: the group is promoting the event on Twitter with a #getinthebackoftheline hashtag.
In terms of the larger political context, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement the event is “an incredible shame.” He added that Greg Abbott “owes Texas DREAM Act scholars an apology, and he must come out and immediately denounce Wednesday’s event. This style of hatred and fear is not the type of leadership Texas deserves.”
No doubt aware of how this offensive “game” could become politically toxic, Abbott did exactly that yesterday afternoon, saying his campaign “has no affiliation with this repugnant effort.”
Update: As of this afternoon, the on-campus event has been canceled.