A conservative group at the University of Texas has canceled its planned “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” contest this week, saying the effort “was misguided and that the idea for the event was intentionally over-the-top in order to get attention for the subject.”
In a statement, Young Conservatives of Texas Chairman Lorenzo Garcia
said members of his group feared they would have been punished or
expelled if they went forward with the game on Wednesday. And he said
the event might have put volunteers in physical danger.
“After the University President and the Vice President for Diversity
and Community Engagement released statements denouncing the event we
planned as violating the university’s honor code, I spoke with our
chapter’s members, and they are both concerned that the university will
retaliate against them and that the protest against the event could
create a safety issue for our volunteers.”
Garcia is a former field director of Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial
campaign. The Abbott campaign distanced itself from the event, saying
Garcia left his paid job as a field representative a few weeks ago.
Garcia’s organization has held controversial events in the past —
including an affirmative-action bake sale in which students were charged
different amounts for baked goods depending on their race. In his
statement, Garcia acknowledged that giving $25 gift cards to students
who “caught” fellow students wearing “Illegal Immigrant” signs was a bad
Announcement of the planned “Immigrant Hunt” prompted university
officials, including President Bill Powers, to denounce the idea and to
call on the student group to call off its contest. Garcia denied that
the game was aimed at diminishing Mexican-Americans and said the Young
Conservatives of Texas just wanted to create a debate on the issue of
“The reactions of some who claim that YCT is creating a demeaning or
degrading environment on campus have been truly disgraceful,” he said.
“I have always viewed The University of Texas as a place where students
could express their opinions—whether or not they were popular.
though our event will not go forward, UT students, our state, and our
nation need to have a serious discussion and debate about the issue of
illegal immigration. I believed that our event would spark this
discussion on campus, and though we will no longer be holding the event,
I hope that the publicity surrounding the event will create debate
In a statement, the university said it supports free
speech rights of students but is happy the group canceled the event.