Friday, February 23, 2007

catch the immigrant

In the NY Times today:

A game called “Catch the Illegal Immigrant” staged on New York University’s campus by a student Republican group drew several hundred students yesterday. But most came to protest the game, not to play it.

Under the game’s rules, according to one student Republican, players were to search on campus for the student chosen to wear a name tag saying “illegal immigrant.” The winner received a small reward.

But many students and other critics said they were repelled that anyone would want to play such a game.

Chanting demonstrators, marching on a side street near Washington Square Park across from a table set up by the Republicans, carried signs saying, “Racism Isn’t a Game” and “We Are All Immigrants.”

. . .

The College Republicans said their aim was not to offend, but rather to draw awareness to the issues.

Because illegal immigration is an issue that hasn’t received nearly enough attention lately.

“I’d rather have people motivated against us than sanguine,” added Mr. Laska, who described himself as “the grandchild of four legal immigrants.”

Yes, but were they legal from the moment they entered the country, or did they become legal later? Where were they from, and how difficult was it for them to immigrate? “Laska” sounds northern European, although I could be totally wrong. Immigrating from the Netherlands in the 1950s, for instance, was a much different proposition than trying to legally immigrate from Oaxaca today. For unskilled laborers from oversubscribed countries like Mexico, legal immigration is next to impossible.

But heaven help Mexico if anyone should infringe upon Mr. Laska’s god-given right to visit the Mayan pyramids for Spring Break. That would truly be an outrage.

I wonder if Mr. Laska’s family ever went through something like this. I know mine didn’t, and I’m the great-great . . . grandson of umpteen legal (illegal? those distinctions were meaningless then) immigrants.

As the protest wound down about 2 p.m., the protesters declared themselves satisfied with the outcome.

“For us, this is a victory,” said Dalia Yedida, speaking through a bullhorn.

Referring to the College Republicans, she said: “They’re scared right now. This is great. We showed N.Y.U. But this is not over.”

No, they are not scared. And no, you didn’t show NYU, you “showed” the NYU College Republicans, all 12 of them. What exactly you showed them is unclear. You are correct, it is far from over. But I find myself wondering what exactly happened here, aside from some college students making asses of themselves.

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