On Wednesday, the Young Conservatives of Texas will host a 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game' on UT's campus in Austin. The organization is headed by Lorenzo Garcia, a former Field Representative on the Greg Abbott campaign. Here's how YCT describes the event on its Facebook page:
YCT will be having a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event this upcoming Wednesday. The details of the game goes as follows:
There will be several people walking around the UT campus with the label “illegal immigrant” on their clothing. Any UT student who catches one of these “illegal immigrants” and brings them back to our table will receive a $25 gift card.
The purpose of this event is to spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.
Earlier this afternoon, the university denounced the event. Their lengthy statement reads in part: “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.”
Read much more below the jump, including the university's full statement about the event.The event has drawn widespread outrage. People from across the country are posting their criticisms on the event's Facebook page in droves. UT students are making dozens of calls to the university's Campus Climate Response Team. The entire point of the CCRT is to shut down and discourage the creation of a hostile campus environment. If it doesn't step in and stop this event, it's not doing its job.
YCT President Lorenzo Garcia with Greg Abbott
It's blindingly obvious, but here's why the event is racist. The 'game' monetizes Hispanic people by encouraging students to turn in the “illegal immigrants” for a cash prize. This publicly and proudly degrades the lives not just of undocumented immigrants, but of all Hispanics. Whether every self-proclaimed “illegal immigrant” in the game is Hispanic or not, the event's message is clear: treat anyone who looks Hispanic like an undocumented immigrant to be turned in, the same way one can return aluminum cans for money. The context for the game is an American immigration debate which includes proud demonization and dehumanization of Hispanic people. Everyone with a decent head on their shoulders, regardless of political affiliation, should reject this racist parade.
Presumably, YCT president Lorenzo Garcia does not want to be captured by rabid Minutemen-type conservatives the next time he's taking a walk. But whether he or the organization as a whole realizes their message's racism is completely irrelevant: they're pushing it out out there. Even if the event doesn't happen — as it shouldn't — they've made the UT campus less welcoming to all people. Conservative message-leaders cloak vitriol in terms of common-sense, but the cloak falls off each time because what's really being pushed is naked rabidity.
From national stories about the College Republicans president's racist tweet, to YCT's 'affirmative action bake sale' to reports of bleach bomb attacks against students of color, the UT campus has been very far from racial harmony in recent years. YCT tried to stage this same game before, in 2005, but protesters successfully drowned them out. Notably, current Republican Party of Texas chairman Steve Munisteri founded YCT thirty years ago, and continues to support the group by giving speeches to them.
Unfortunately, it makes sense that the young conservative spearheading this event is a former Abbott staffer. Apparently, Garcia knew this morning that this news would hurt his former boss, and quickly took down his former employment on his LinkedIn profile, but not before many people captured a screenshot. The Texas Democratic Party put out a statement explaining how completely this hateful event fits into Abbott's ardent anti-immigration stance, including support for racially discriminatory Voter ID laws, redistricting that isolates Hispanics, and a no-empathy immigration policy. Lone Star Project director Matt Angle said this:
“The very notion of a catch an illegal immigrant game is repulsive on its face and illustrates the hostile attitude Greg Abbott holds towards Hispanic Texans. Greg Abbott is playing games with Texas Hispanic voters, saying he wants their votes when in reality, Greg Abbott tolerates, embraces and promotes policies and tactics that denigrate Hispanics and divide Texans one against another.”
Does Greg Abbott, a UT alumni, support his former staffer's “game”?
Will the Campus Climate Response Team step up and shut down this racist event?
Here's the UT denouncement of the event:
Apparently drawing from a 2005-06 plan of Young Conservative organizations on campuses across the country, the UT Austin chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) is hosting a game on campus this Wednesday called “Catch an Illegal Immigrant.” The game involves students walking around campus with the words “Illegal Immigrant” on their back. Students who capture the marked students and bring them back to the YCT table will be rewarded with a $25 gift card.
As was the case with the YCT bake sale on the west mall last month, such tactics are inflammatory and demeaning. And once again in trying to be provocative, the YCT is contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff by sending the message that certain students do not belong on our campus. Some UT Austin students are undocumented, and under Dream Act legislation signed into law in 2001, these students are entitled to attend state universities. They are part of a growing diverse population on campus and in the state of Texas-a population that plays increasingly larger roles in our intellectual, economic, political and cultural communities.
The university honor code entreats students to abide by the core values of the university, one of which is freedom, but two others of which are individual opportunity and responsibility. The university also values free speech and our campus continues to be an arena that inspires dialogue from diverse viewpoints. However, it is also meant to be a community where students exhibit respect for each other while holding those viewpoints.
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.
Update 2:45pm: Greg Abbott has managed to release an offensive denunciation:
“Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort. Illegal immigration and the failed policies of the Obama Administration are not a joking matter.
“Conservatives should not stoop to the level of liberals, whose shenanigans at the Texas Capitol this summer, including chants of 'hail Satan' during Senator Davis' filibuster to allow abortions after five months, did nothing but sidetrack the Texas Legislature.”
First of all, reproductive rights supporters managed to force an end to the first special session before the bill was passed and emboldened the cause by doing so. Second, any chants like that were mockery of conservatives like Abbott's characterizations of the motives of women's rights supporters. Furthermore, his false equivalence of a blatantly racist event with the push to protect Texas women from Republican politicians' control shows how much he doesn't get it, denunciation or no denunciation.