A conservative student group at the University of Texas has canceled its scheduled "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" game this week after it sparked controversy and backlash from the community and even one of the state's gubernatorial candidates.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, the school's chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas was planning a mock game
where students would hunt down volunteers labeled as "illegal immigrants." Any student who made a catch would win a $25 gift card.
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The goal was reportedly get people talking about the country's policies on immigration.
"If we held a forum or a public debate, no one would show up," Lorenzo Garcia, YCT chairman of the UT chapter, told the Express-News. "But if we have an event like this, it gets people talking about it, and if it gets people talking about it, then we've succeeded."
But university officials, students, Democrats, and pro-immigration groups immediately condemned the game, and the controversy even made it as far as state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office.
Abbott, a Republican who's also running in next year's gubernatorial race, spoke out after it was revealed that Garcia, the game's organizer, is reportedly a former paid staffer for his campaign.
"Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort," an Abbott spokesman said Monday.
According to KEYETV.com, Garcia met with school officials Monday
and then decided to cancel the event when he was told it violated the university's honor code.
"I have decided … to call off the illegal immigration event. After [university officials] 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 said in a statement.
"It is a simple fact that illegal immigration is a concern in this country and that it is one we must face. Estimates suggest that around 12 million people are living in the United States without documentation. President Obama wants to address the issue during his final term, and students on college campuses, conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between, should not be silenced when they attempt to make their voices heard about an issue that is so important to our futures."
This isn’t the first time UT's Young Conservatives have caused a stir with one of their events. Last month, the group held an affirmative action bake sale where they charged students different prices based on their race.
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