By Chris Tomlinson
AUSTIN — A conservative student group announced Monday they will play a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game” this week on the University of Texas at Austin, drawing condemnation from Democrats and a threat of expulsion from campus officials.
The Young Conservatives of Texas have planned the game for Wednesday. Members will wander the campus wearing signs that say “illegal immigrant,” and students who capture them and take them to the Young Conservatives’ recruiting table will get $25 gift certificates.
“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,” a statement posted by the group’s spokesman, Lorenzo Garcia. The group did not immediately reply to several emails sent by The Associated Press.
The Texas Democratic Party pounced on the posting, condemning the game and pointing out that Garcia recently was a paid staffer with Republican Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign.
The Democratic party has been pushing Abbott to state his position on a Texas law that allows children brought into the country illegally by their parents to receive in-state tuition, legislation called the Texas DREAM Act.
“While Abbott has said he doesn’t support the DREAM Act as it is, he refuses to say what he would change and if he supports it at all,” state Democratic chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said. “He must come out and immediately denounce Wednesday’s event. This style of hatred and fear is not the type of leadership Texas deserves.”
Abbott’s press secretary, Avdiel Huerta, said the “campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort.”
Many top Republican candidates have promised to repeal the Texas DREAM Act. Students affected by the law frequently stage protests on the Austin campus demanding changes to federal immigration law.
Gregory Vincent, the university’s vice president for diversity, said students who participate in the game Wednesday would be exercising their freedom of speech “to the detriment of others.”
“The YCT is contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff by sending the message that certain students do not belong on our campus,” Vincent said in a statement. “If the members of YCT carry out their plan … they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture.”
Students found guilty of violating the honor code could face expulsion.