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Minority Groups Protest ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day’ on Michigan Campus

Minority groups are up in arms over a College Republican intern’s plan to organize “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” on the University of Michigan’s campus.

Morgan Wilkins, an independent contractor hired to draw students into the GOP, had envisioned an event where volunteers would pretend to be illegal immigrants and hide somewhere on campus while others try to find them. The winner would receive a prize.

The National Council of La Raza and the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the plan and asked the Republican National Committee to put a stop to any similar events.

“We hope and expect that this abhorrent event is the product of one young and misguided mind and not that of the RNC,” says Janet Murguía, president and CEO of La Raza. “But the larger concern is that this incident and a similar one at Penn State earlier this year merely reflect a debate that has spun out of control and succeeded in scapegoating and dehumanizing undocumented immigrants to the point where college kids think of hunting human beings as entertainment.”

According to The Michigan Daily, other ideas suggested by Wilkins included an event called “Fun with Guns,” in which young Republicans would use BB guns or paintball guns to shoot cardboard cut-outs of Democratic leaders such as U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. and John Kerry, D-Mass.

Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter, says it is “disturbing that any group would promote such a divisive and racist event.

“We call on the College Republicans National Committee to cancel this event and instead work with students of all races, faiths and national origins to promote tolerance and mutual understanding,” he says.

The Michigan chapter of the GOP and the RNC chairman have each issued statements saying they had no affiliation with Wilkins or her planned activities.

In a letter to Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, RNC chairman Ken Mehlman wrote: “The individuals apparently responsible for or involved in these activities, however, do not work for the RNC, nor has the RNC been involved in such events.”

Paul Gourley, chairman of the College Republicans National Committee, also denies any such event had been considered by the organization.

“This is a hypothetical event which we have neither supported or condoned,” he told Diverse. He also denies that College Republicans have held similar events at Penn State and at the University of North Texas in 2005.

“It has never been executed anywhere and is not our idea of activism,” Gourley says.

—      By Shilpa Banerji


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