Conservative students at the University of Texas at Austin planned to pass out cookies and cake Wednesday to celebrate Texas Independence Day. But rumors that they were planning another activity -- a "hunt" for illegal aliens -- led hundreds of students to protest.
In January, the University of North Texas chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas held just such an event. Some students wore orange shirts that said "Illegal Immigrant" on one side and "Catch Me If U Can" on the other. Other students chased them and those who "caught" an immigrant won prizes. The state chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas posted photos of the event on its Web site.
Officials of the conservative group at Austin and North Texas did not respond to messages Thursday. But they told the Houston Chronicle that there was no "hunt" planned for this week, but that the Austin chapter might have one in the future.
The Chronicle reported that the protesting students shouted at the conservatives, calling them "bigots" and "racists," and that some of the protesters threw down the trays with food that the conservative group was passing out.
Alfredo Silva, a senior at Texas and co-director of the Latino Leadership Council, said that the conservative students' hunt at North Texas was offensive, and that the colored shirts worn by those playing illegal immigrants were an insult to people who are not white.
"Any minority student would feel uncomfortable about this event," he said.
Silva said that the Young Conservatives have a right to have their own views on immigration. "But they should be smart enough to find another way to get their message across."