Update (11/19, 11am): It seems the event has been cancelled. The Facebook event page is down at least. And the counter-action, which has grown to more than 4,000 RSVPs on Facebook, has been converted into a mini-march for immigration reform and in support of undocumented Longhorns!
University of Texas student group the Young Conservatives of Texas will be having a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event this upcoming Wednesday. The details, as posted on the event’s Facebook page, are:
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.
Supposedly the event is meant to “spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives.”
I wonder if any of the YCT’s “illegal immigrants” will face abuses like LUPE member and immigrant to the Rio Grande Valley Francisca [name changed to protect her identity] did when she was detained and deported in 2010. Francisca and her four oldest children came to the US ten years earlier from a small town where women weren’t allowed to do the work men did. Looking for a better life for their children, and a place where Francisca could help her family financially, Francisca’s husband migrated to the US in 1996 and his family followed in 2000.
One summer morning when Francisca and her children were on their way to work, they were stopped and detained by Border Patrol. Despite Francisca asking for a hearing in front of an immigration judge on account of her two US citizen children and ten years living in the country, the immigration officer held her for hours, subjecting her to mental abuse in order to pressure her to sign her own deportation.
Francisca’s story is not unique. A 2011 report titled A Culture of Cruelty is based on interviews with 12,895 individuals who were in Border Patrol custody and were subsequently deported. The report found that “…99.7% of people, plus or minus 0.5%, are experiencing some sort of violation by Border Patrol when they are in custody,” said Dr. Katerina Sinclair, a statistician, research consultant, and one of the co-authors of the study.
With abuse at the hands of immigration enforcement officials being the norm rather than the exception, will Young Conservatives of Texas members mimic those abuses in their mock immigration stings on Wednesday?
While the YCT’s event is over the top in its disregard for the dignity of undocumented Americans, it reflects the general disinterest in honestly addressing the issue of immigration by conservative leadership.
With the leader of the Young Conservatives of Texas’ “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game recently being a paid staffer with Republican Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign, the GOP continues to be troubled by its anti-immigrant, anti-Latino image. While the Abbott campaign said the “campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort,” Abbott along with the other three GOP gubernatorial candidates have vowed to repeal the Texas DREAM Act.
Meanwhile in Washington, House Speaker John Boehner last week slammed the door shut on comprehensive immigration reform this year by saying the GOP-led House would not conference with the Senate immigration bill passed in June to enact comprehensive immigration reform. The House GOP leadership’s refusal to act on comprehensive immigration reform only furthers the notion among US Latinos that the GOP does not have their best interest at heart.
There is more than enough time for Speaker Boehner to bring a vote on a path to citizenship to the House floor this year, just as there is time for the Young Conservatives of Texas to cancel their misguided and hateful event. The Young Conservatives of Texas and House GOP leadership can still align themselves with the majority of Americans who support the dignity of our undocumented brothers and sisters rather than those who would block immigration reform and therefore perpetuate the abuse of immigrants at the hands of enforcement officials.
If you’re in Austin and would like to participate in the counter-protest to this hateful game, you can find details on Facebook here. You can also put some pressure on the group to cancel their event by signing a petition calling on UT to revoke the student group’s official standing with the university.