The state of Texas was once again the center of the immigration reform debate recently, as a student group at the state’s flagship university in Austin planned, and then was forced to cancel, a campus game that was viewed by many as offensive.
Lorenzo Garcia, chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at UT, tried to organize a variation of tag called “Catch an Illegal Immigrant.” The game would have had students wear signs labeling them as an “illegal immigrant,” and anyone who turned them into the YCT group would have received a $25 gift certificate.
For his part, Garcia responded to the controversy by telling The Dallas Morning News, “If we held a forum, if we did something more politically correct and held a forum or a panel discussion, we’d get about five to 10 people to show up. But if we did something like this, everybody’s talking about it.”
Immigrant groups and Democrats up in arms
Not surprisingly, the announcement of the game, which was to have taken place on Wednesday, Nov. 20, drew a loud and rapid negative reaction. According to the Morning News, Democratic State Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa was one of many people who led the charge against Garcia’s plan, calling it deplorable and saying that students at UT were owed an apology.
“This style of hatred and fear is not the type of leadership Texas deserves,” Hinojosa said in a written statement.
Anger over the proposal by Garcia, who was also a field director for Greg Abbott, a former Republican candidate for Texas governor, rose to the extent that hundreds of students, many of them undocumented immigrants, showed up to a rally to denounce the event. The rally, which took place on the same day the game was supposed to have been held, even drew the attention of actress America Ferrera, herself a child of immigrants.