“Catch An Illegal Immigrant!” University of Texas (UT) students in the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) organization used this line to entice fellow students to join in on the racist and discriminatory game, along with the promise of $25 gift cards to any person who catches an “immigrant.” Lorenzo Garcia, a student at UT and chairman of the YCT organization, set up the game as well as a Facebook event page to invite his student body.
This shocked everyone, including Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, UT’s President Bill Powers, and even the official Twitter account for the Democratic Party. The idea of the game was this: participants try to “catch” students wearing labels identifying them as illegal immigrants, and once caught, students who found the “immigrants” will receive gift cards. The game itself is meant to be nonviolent, but many students who are opposed to it may not have been so peaceful. University officials were not only worried about the game sending the wrong message, but also that it would cause many safety concerns. Congressman Joaquin Castro commented, “Texas Republicans are becoming more and more radical… These anti-immigrant “games” are out of step with Texas’ values and have been for generations.”
The event caused an uproar of both student protest on Twitter and a counter-event on Facebook to be created using the slogan, “I am undocumented.” The counter-event was aimed to pull together students at UT to say, “NO to Campus HATE!” It gained a lot of followers within just a couple days. The end result: a sum of over 4,300 members, who vowed to wear white shirts around campus that read “Undocumented.” They also planned an event on campus for the 400 undocumented students studying at UT on the Texas Dream Act. The Texas Dream Act permits certain immigrant students to apply for temporary legal status and eventually become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military).
The original game was later cancelled, and Garcia apologized. …Or did he? Lorenzo Garcia commented on behalf of the YCT organization and said, “I acknowledge that the decision to include issuing $25 gift cards during the event was misguided and that the idea for the event was intentionally over the top… students on college campuses, conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between, should not be silenced when they attempt to make their voices heard about an issue that is so important to our futures.” While I am sure we can all agree that we should not allow our voices to be ignored, it is also agreeable to many that this event was entirely unnecessary. Garcia’s apology seemed both insincere and lackluster, focusing his remorse mainly on the issue of the gift card rewards, rather than the event itself. As Garcia and the YCT organization continue to be smothered with criticism, from both conservatives and liberals, the officials at UT and the student body are ecstatic to hear that the game has been cancelled.