Hundreds of people gathered at New York University on Thursday to protest a game called "Find the Illegal Immigrant" organized by the school’s Republican club. Democracy Now! was there to speak with students on both sides. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Hundreds of people gathered at New York University Thursday to protest a game called "Find the Illegal Immigrant," organized by the school’s Republican Club. Democracy Now! producer Elizabeth Press was at the protest and spoke to Caitlin Kannall, secretary of the NYU College Republicans. She also talked to Sasha Hammed of the Students Creating Radical Change.
CAITLIN KANNALL: We decided about a month ago that we were going to hold an event. It’s the "Find the Illegal Immigrant." And essentially what goes behind the game is people can sign up between the hours of 11:00 and 2:00 to be INS agents, and then at 2:00 one of our members is going to be walking around with an illegal immigrant sign, and the person who finds them gets a gift card. We — again, we decided this about a month ago that we wanted to do this event. It was one of many events passed or that we decided, you know, we thought about. We put it up to a vote, and the majority voted that we wanted to do this event, so this is not — I really hope that people don’t focus it on a few people of this group and really ostracize them for this, because that’s not the case at all. This was a group effort. And our motivation behind this is essentially that we wanted to raise awareness and incite a little dialogue on campus here, because, unfortunately, in such a polar university the conservative voice is often lost.
SASHA HAMMED: OK, my name’s Sasha Hammad. I’m an NYU student. I’m from a progressive club called Students Creating Radical Change on campus, and I’m one of the organizers of the counter-protest of the NYU College Republicans’ game, which is titled "Find the Illegal Immigrant." And we came out against this, because the language and the images that the NYU Republicans were using to publicize this event target Mexicans through cartoons, through photographs, playing on popular discourse that, you know, illegal immigrants are all people of color, you know, furthering the government’s criminalization and racial profiling of anyone of color. So we came out here today, you know, in solidarity with immigrants, regardless of legal status, which is why we’re wearing our tags. So we’re here to question, you know, why is NYU tolerating this sort of racism on campus, to show solidarity with immigrants and, you know, to engage about a larger dialogue and educate our communities that immigrants are what make this country run.
AMY GOODMAN: Voices from New York University yesterday. Juan Gonzalez, you wrote your column in the New York Daily News today on this. You were there.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. It got enormous, enormous press coverage. I was astounded by the number of cameras down there, but it clearly shows the trivialization after — the statements we’ve just seen are the problems that real-life immigrants are having in this country in these detention centers, trivializing the entire issue of illegal immigration and the problems there. And I particularly focused on a Chinese-American student who was part of the College Republicans and who clearly did not know anything about the history of racially motivated exclusion of Chinese in this country for so many years by American policy on immigration. And I think it was a real clear sense, though, that the vast majority of the students that were there were protesting this trivialization of the immigration issue.