Tuesday, November 26, 2013

“Catch an Illegal Immigrant” contest at the University of Texas Aftermath

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.

Young Conservatives Chairman Lorenzo Garcia, former field director for Greg Abbott campaign. Garcia says his group canceled "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" contest on UT contest (Facebook posting on Young Conservatives of Texas site)

“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 idea.

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 illegal immigration.

“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.

Even 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 among students.”

In a statement, the university said it supports free speech rights of students but is happy the group canceled the event.

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