With the possibility of Texas State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) joining Sen. Wendy Davis as her running mate for Lt. Governor, the Democratic group Battleground Texas is registering and mobilizing voters vigorously to make Texas politically competitive again. A poll by the University of Texas/Texas Tribune shows Sen. Davis trails her likely opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbot, by only six points, which makes it safe to assume state Republicans are currently running for their lives. However, the state political party that has shifted to the Right in recent decades, driven by the Tea Party movement, seems to be pushing further than ever before.
Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) chapter at the University of Texas at Austin Lorenzo Garcia, who was a paid field director for Republican Attorney General Greg Abbot’s campaign for Governor up until June, has organized a “game” on campus this upcoming Wednesday, Nov. 20th, called “Catch an Illegal Immigrant.”
The game’s premise includes certain students walking around campus with the words “illegal immigrant” on their back, ready to be captured by anyone who wants to “take them back” to the YCT table for a $25 gift card.
“If we held a forum, if we did something more politically correct and held a forum or a discussion, we’d get about five to ten people to show up,” said Garcia. “But if we did something like this, everybody’s talking about it.”
As the organized event has started to gain the attention of media outlets and Liberal groups across the nation, especially those local, like Battleground Texas, Garcia and his group can surely expect a lot of “talk” about his event, including attention from the Vice President of Diversity at the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Gregory J. Vincent.
“The university honor code entreats students to abide by the core values of the university, one of which is freedom, but two others of which are individual opportunity and responsibility. The university also values free speech and our campus continues to be an arena that inspires dialogue from diverse viewpoints. However, it is also meant to be a community where students exhibit respect for each other while holding those viewpoints,” said Dr. Vincent. “If the members of YCT carry out their plan for ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant,’ they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture… such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.”
This is not the first time the YCT has sparked racial controversy that attracted national and local attention. This past September, the group held what they called an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale,” where they priced their baked goods according to race and gender, with Caucasian students paying the highest price of $2, and Native Americans paying the least with only 25 cents, while women of all races received a 25 percent discount.
Garcia says that Fisher v. The University of Texas at Austin, the case against UT’s race-based admission, inspired his bake sale idea to protest the university’s affirmative action policy and spark a political discussion. However, Garcia’s inspiration might have had an extra source he did not mention. For instance, two years ago, in September 2011, a Republican student group at the University of California at Berkley organized the a similar event, an affirmative action bake sale for the same cause and almost the exact gender/race pricing.
While Garcia claimed his bake sale was a success, his “Catch An Illegal Immigrant” game was clearly a failure before it even began because the event was cancelled this Tuesday morning. Due to the major opposition from the University officials to the students, and the sensitivity of the issue, Garcia decided to cancel the “game,” expressing his fear from University officials’ response to the act, and disappointment in the position against his case. He also stated that a campus should be a place for students to express their opinions openly with the promise of free speech.
Democratic groups and their affiliates, such as Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, have sought out to tie YCT to the Texas Republican Party and Attorney General Greg Abbot.
“Texas Republicans are becoming more and more radical. This ‘game’ points to a growing anti-immigrant sentiment from within the Republican Party in Texas,” said Castro in a statement to BuzzFeed. “Not only have all four GOP candidates for Lieutenant Governor vowed to repeal the Texas DREAM Act, but [Attorney General] Greg Abbott, the top GOP gubernatorial candidate, has stated that he would change the law, yet refuses to give specifics. Texas has a proud and rich immigrant history. These anti-immigrant ‘games’ are out of step with Texas’ values and have been for generations.”