Gawker reports that the University of Texas at Austin's Young Conservatives group is doing a "catch an illegal immigrant" event tomorrow. (UT Austin is my alma mater where I got my PH.D.) The group's Facebook events page (since removed) described the game as follows:
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.
The University has responded forcefully, warning that anyone that participates in the event will be acting in violation of the University's honor code. This just in, after intense backlash over the event including from conservatives, the event has been cancelled.
The irony in this episode is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Upon cancelling the event, the organizer, Lorenzo Garcia, expressed shock and admitted the game was “misguided” and “intentionally over the top.” ABC News also reports that, "members of the chapter feared retaliation...'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 said.
We, the decent public, have Lorenzo Garcia to thank for the following:
1) Keeping the immigration issue in the news when it is just about dead in terms of legislative viability in this term. Thanks for making sure it went into one more news cycle.
2) Highlighting the absolutely arbitrary nature of one's immigration status. Randomly pinning students around campus with a sign that reads "illegal" is surprisingly similar to the randomness of the birth lottery for those who are lucky enough to be born on U.S. soil.
3) Highlighted the fear and psychological unease of the undocumented population who have to constantly look over their shoulder for fear of retaliation from the authorities.
Somehow, I don't think those were the lessons Garcia was aiming for.