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College conservatives plot ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ event in Texas

Is outing yourself as a hateful bigot worth a $25 gift card?


Miles Klee


The University of Texas at Austin chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, a statewide group that fights for “conservative values” by “educating students and the public,” will stage a stunt on campus Wednesday that has many students seeing red.

Facebook page established by chapter chairman Lorenzo V. Garcia explains the concept of YCT’s “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” as though it’s just typical college fun:

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. 

Some 220 people have RSVP’d for the noon event thus far, though most of the page has been overwhelmed with condemnations of the stunt. One person mockingly posted a photo of Garcia shaking hands with Sen. Ted Cruz (born in Canada), as well as a serious response from UT Austin President Bill Powers, who noted that the United States was “built on the strength of immigration” and characterized the game as “completely out of line.”

In a statement from Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement also slammed the concept, which it said was lifted from 2005-2006 YCT action plans, as “inflammatory and demeaning,” adding that “in trying to be provocative, the YCT is contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect.”

Even Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor in 2014, whose website contains no mention of the immigration issue, saw the need to distance himself from such activities, though not for the reasons you might think. “Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort,” read a comment from a PR representative. “Illegal immigration and the failed policies of the Obama administration are not a joking matter. Conservatives, he added, should not indulge in the same “shenanigans” as liberals.

.@gregabbott_tx flack on the YCT immigrant sting: “Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort”

— Evan Smith (@evanasmith) November 18, 2013

Of course, Garcia never saw this as a humorous affair but, rather, a way of sparking “a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.” He’s got a heated, topical discussion, all right—just not the one he wanted.

I wonder if someone has ever mistakenly thought @lrgrcia was an illegal immigrant since his name has hard R’s & a thick Hispanic sound.

— Alyssa Morin (@moraly92) November 18, 2013

Update: The Young Conservatives of Texas cancelled its event Tuesday morning, citing safety concerns and a fear of retaliation, KUT reported. Garcia’s statement is available here

Photo by Ben Hodgson/Flickr

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