Thank you to everyone who attended Stand in Solidarity on Nov. 20 at Miller Fountain. At the event, students were encouraged to share thoughts on immigration reform and write on a poster (currently in Coates) the reasons they “stand in solidarity” with the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. A second thank you to Katsuo Nishikawa for bringing Telemundo and Univision to campus for media coverage.
I organized this event in response to a “game” that was planned at UT-Austin for Nov. 20 by the Young Conservatives of Texas, UT chapter. The game, which was cancelled, assigned five volunteers to wear signs reading “˜illegal immigrant’ and offered UT students the opportunity to catch these individuals to receive a $25 gift card. Chapter chairman Lorenzo Garcia said the event was not intended to instill anger or promote prejudice, but instead to educate college students about a serious issue.
Like thousands of others at college across the U.S., I objected to this event because of its predatory nature and the environment of fear I believe it would have created at the UT-Austin campus. Over 400 undocumented students attend UT. Those students should feel comfortable at their university, not humiliated by the heinous actions of a select few.
I maintain that Lorenzo Garcia and the YCT approached the conversation about immigration reform in the wrong manner. Their “catch an illegal immigrant” game was a scare tactic, not a productive addition to dialogue.
Honestly, I was disappointed in the YCT when they cancelled their event. According to Garcia, the event was cancelled due to pressure from the university and safety concerns. I think that if Garcia had the cojones to organize such an event, he needed to follow through. That said, it is still incredible to me that someone would consider this game an acceptable mode of protest.
Immigration is a divisive issue, with many complicated facets. One aspect that I believe must change is the language we use. In my opinion, no human is illegal. Instead of saying illegal immigrant, I think we should say undocumented immigrant. A critic might argue that the term illegal is used in reference to the illegal act an immigrant makes by coming to the U.S. without utilizing the proper process. That is a valid argument, but I think it warrants a separate discussion.
My issue with the YCT’s proposed game is a matter of respect. There is a civil way to discuss an issue and then there are tactics of intimidation and fear mongering. I urge everyone to get involved, no matter your stance. Have the conversation. Talk to your local representatives. But do so in a fruitful way.
Carlos Anchondo is majoring in communication and international studies. He is also the news editor for the Trinitonian.