Catching illegal immigrants on UT campus (story of the week)

The UT chapter of the Texas Young Conservatives is attracting national attention (and scrutiny) since Monday’s announcement of their “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event. The event, scheduled for today, invited all UT students to seek and capture “illegal immigrants” hiding around campus in exchange for $25 gift cards. In light of the subsequent media firestorm, the event has been cancelled.

Lorenzo Garcia, the event’s organizer and Chairman of the UT Young Conservatives, issued this public statement about the event’s cancellation. It cites fear of University backlash and concerns for volunteer safety as factors in the decision to scrap the event. Garcia, a former Abbott staffer and current UT student, faces excessive vilification, and harassment from friends and opponents alike.

The event was vulgar, demeaning, and indelicate. I found it offensive, and many other people did too. But is that a good enough reason to call it off? Probably not. Is it a good enough reason to send obscenity-laced death threats to a student’s personal social media accounts? Again, probably not. This was a misguided student organization’s botched publicity stunt, not a discriminatory piece of legislation our an outrageous court ruling. I value my right to speak freely, and it would be hypocritical not to value the Texas Young Conservative’s and Garcia’s right to do the same. If they were making policy, that would be a different story.

And with that, I direct your attention to the real story of the week. (via the Texas Tribune)

Jessica and Texas Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) at the Texas Tribune Festival

Highlights of the Texas Tribune Festival

I spent this weekend at the Texas Tribune Festival, which is basically a music festival with politicians instead of bands. Tribune Fest was chock full of major players in Texas politics and, let me tell ya, I was in heaven! Here’s my list of the 15 best (and worst) moments from the weekend, in mostly chronological order:

  • When Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott  tried to convince everyone that the Affordable Care Act is the product of voter fraud, and the crowd laughed at him. 
  • When Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said “Texas is going to turn blue over my dead, cold, bloated butt.”
  • When David Dewhurst busted out his 8th grade Spanish (“Yo sabo…el gobern…seguridad por el futuro”) and everyone was confused.
  • When David Dewhurst said “We already have universal healthcare, it’s called the Emergency Room.” and the crowd laughed at him.
  • When David Dewhurst decided that 5 months is plenty of time for a woman to decide what to do with her pregnancy, but has never been pregnant himself. When Texas Rep. Sarah Davis rolled her eyes every time Rep. Donna Campbell answered a question with “I am a physician…”
  • When a lady in the audience recommended humanely sucking fetuses out of women and growing them in artificial uterueses as a middle ground in the abortion debate.
  • When a Republican turned out to be the voice of reason on the Women’s Health Panel (Sarah Davis, you are amazing! Preach!)
  • When Donna Campbell said there is nothing in the legislation that would shut down women’s health facilities and I was part of the unruly mob for the few seconds before the next question. Jess with Texas Representative Jessica Farrar, her personal hero! (She's smiling!)
  • When Texas Senator Eddie Lucio (he’s a Democrat, btw) tripped over a chair trying to get away from questions about his opposition to all forms of birth control.
  • When Rep. Jessica Farrar said that political wars can’t be fought on the backs of women.
  • When I got to hang out with Jessica Farrar.
  • When Evan Smith said “Welcome to Politics Church.” at the beginning of Sunday morning’s session.
  • When the room was so packed with people waiting to see Wendy that we had to use bathroom passes to get in and out
  • When the Longhorn Band came in and there was a pep-rally for Wendy Davis at the end of the day.

Those are my favorite moments, but I wasn’t at every session. Did I leave something out? Leave a comment to share your favorite moments from Tribune Fest, too!