The Young Conservatives of Texas, a conservative student group at the University of Texas at Austin, recently cancelled plans they had put in place to execute a campus-wide game that many deemed in poor taste. The game – given the title of the “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” – consisted of the group’s members wearing signs that said “illegal immigrant” and an offer of $25 gift cards to any students on campus who caught the students and turned them in at the group’s official location. Needless to say there was the potential for a backlash from students, even as Austin immigration law firms expected to see a bit of an uptick in calls to their offices about it.
Although the chairman of the Young Conservatives group admitted that the game was likely to generate some controversy, he has defended it as well as the group’s right to carry out their plans for it. He has stated that the immigration issue is one of tremendous importance and that students should be allowed to “make their voices heard” in creative ways. He further states that the game was intended to instigate discussions among students about the issue as well as generate publicity that the group had hoped would result in healthy debates between students. There are a significant number of students at the University of Texas and in other colleges and universities in Texas who were brought into the country illegally by their parents when they were young. Some of these students take advantage of the Texas DREAM Act which allows them to pay in-state tuition costs and are looking for the Act to be revised so that it can include citizenship for them as well.
The game generated a significant amount of upheaval on campus as a number of students made plans to actively protest the activity which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday. One student group in particular, the Latino group known as The Librotraficantes, had announced that they would try to turn the game on its ear by giving “illegal immigrant” signs to pairs of students free of charge so that they can collect the gift cards. Certain university officials expressed uneasiness about the game indicating that while it is indeed an expression of freedom of speech, that expression is not beneficial to everyone. Furthermore, these officials believe that the conservative group’s game sends the message that certain individuals are not welcome on the University of Texas campus and that if the game had gone forward as planned the group would have effectively contributed to cultural degradation on campus.
Ultimately the group decided that it was in the best interest of all parties involved if they cancelled their proposed game. The University supported the group’s decision to do so as did the other more liberal student groups on campus. The Young Conservatives of Texas have generated controversy before such as in September of this year when at their Affirmative Action Bake Sale they set the prices of their baked good differently based on the buyer’s ethnicity and gender.
If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination for reasons associated with immigration issues, please visit the website of Austin immigration law firm Lyttle Law Firm, or call their offices in Austin at 512-215-5225.