After intense backlash, the University of Texas’s Young Conservatives student group called off their controversial “catch an illegal immigrant” event today.
In a statement, the YCT chairman and event’s organizer Lorenzo Garcia acknowledged that staging a mock hunt for illegal immigrants on campus and offering $25 rewards was “misguided” and “intentionally over the top.”
He added that members of the chapter feared retaliation.
“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.
The Facebook group for the event, which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday has been deleted, but up until this morning, it was filled with negative reactions from fellow students to the event.
Gregory J. Vincent, the university’s VP of Diversity and Community Engagement, denounced it as “provocative” and “contributing to the degradation of our campus culture.”
In a separate statement today, the University of Texas system Board of Regents Chairman Paul L. Foster and Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa issued a scathing denunciation of the group’s plans.
“It is both disappointing and dishonorable for any UT student to treat another with disrespect, and we hope that the Young Conservatives of Texas explore more constructive and mature ways to promote a dialogue about issues of concern to them,” they said.
The university welcomed the event’s cancellation in a subsequent statement.
Even while Garcia announced that he would cancel the event, he said that he was “shocked” by the uproar over the “event’s premise” and the personal attacks he has received as a result.
“I have been called an ‘Uncle Tom.’ I have received emails and comments via social media filled with obscenity,” Garcia continued. “The reactions of some who claim that YCT is creating a demeaning or degrading environment on campus have been truly disgraceful.”