New York City (CNSNews.com) - It's called "Find the Illegal Immigrant," and it's a game that has sparked uproar on the campus of one of the most liberal universities in the nation.
A New York University group allows any student with a university identification card to take part in the hide-and-seek type game, playing the role of an immigration agent. The target is a student playing the role of an illegal immigrant, and discovering that person's identity wins the student "agent" a prize.
The game is the brainchild of the College Republican Club and was being played out Thursday afternoon at Washington Square, a city-owned park area that borders the NYU campus in Lower Manhattan.
Several groups have planned protests to denounce the game, among them NYUinc.org, a liberal student activist group based at the university which has called on students and others to join the protest.
"As intelligent, active, anti-racist folks, we want our actions to support immigrants on campus and in this country and educate our community about the realities of immigration in the U.S. today," the group said on its website.
"It's not a racist event," said Sarah Chambers, the 21-year-old president of the College Republicans. "Just because we don't want illegal immigrants being able to completely disregard the laws of our country doesn't make us racist," she said.
The NYU College Republicans' website identifies the group's members as "conservative students that share your appreciation for small government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and social responsibility."
"At universities, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas - even difficult and unpopular ideas - is a key mission," NYU spokesman John Beckham said in a statement.
"We hope the debates will be conducted with respect and civility, and will be driven by an impulse to provoke thought rather than anger," he said. "Illegal immigration is a totally appropriate topic for debate, though this event seems principally calculated to produce outraged reaction rather than dialogue."
Lauren Wolfe, president of the Washington, D.C.-based College Democrats of America was not available for comment but in a faxed release blasted the NYU Republican Club students and their game.
"College Republicans seem to have no shame in continuing to scapegoat and pinpoint immigrants for their own political gain," she said.
"The College Republicans continued pattern of discharging hateful and insulting rhetoric towards immigrants and minorities and the lack of condemnation from national Republicans not only reflects poorly on the Republican leadership but on the future of the Republican Party."
The game and others like it have been played out on other college campuses before.
Last September, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean complained about similar games being planned at the University of Michigan.
In November, a Republican group at Boston University launched a "mock scholarship" for students who could prove they were 25 percent Caucasian.
A month earlier, a melee erupted at New York's Columbia University when students stormed the stage where Jim Gilchrest, founder of the "Minuteman Project," had been invited to speak by the Columbia College Republican Club. Protestors knocked over chairs and overturned tables before security guards intervened.
In neighboring New Jersey which has a large illegal immigrant population, the hosts of a popular and controversial talk show on WKXW-FM radio launched a contest called "Operation La Cucha Gotcha," inviting listeners to call the station or immigration authorities to identify illegal immigrants in the state.
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