NEW YORK – A student Republican club at New York University has planned a 'Find the Illegal Immigrant' game for Thursday that has some on campus calling the event "racist."
In what it says is an attempt to get students to debate the issue of illegal immigration, members of the club who present their NYU identification cards can be immigration agents for the day and search for an illegal immigrant in a crowd of people. The agent who successfully identifies the illegal immigrant wins a gift certificate.
Some students have sent GOP club officials e-mails calling the event "racist" and "disgusting." Up to 300 are expected to protest the event, scheduled to run from 11 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. Thursday.
"As active members of society who happen to be NYU students, we need to show that this type of racist action is completely unacceptable," said one protest posting on Facebook.com — the site where information on the immigrant game was also posted by event organizers.
"Let's not be lazy; instead, let's be just as organized as they are and bring out as many protesters as possible. Bring banners, voice boxes, picket signs. Possible slogans could be: 'No One is Illegal' 'For a World Without Borders' or (a personal favorite) 'Who's the Illegal Immigrant, PILGRIM?' the protest posting continues.
But the club said the event is aimed at sparking debate on the controversial political issue of illegal immigrants. As of Wednesday morning, 64 people said on Facebook.com that they were planning to attend the event.
"It's not a racist event, first and foremost," Sarah Chambers, the 21-year-old president of the College Republicans and politics major, told The Daily News. "Just because we don't want illegal immigrants being able to completely disregard the laws of our country doesn't make us racist."
Students must show their NYU identification to be deemed "INS" agents and to search the person wearing the nametag.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service used to be the primary federal agency responsible for keeping track of illegal immigrants and granting citizenship to immigrants who follow the proper procedures. That agency was abolished several years ago, and those duties have been absorbed into other departments, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau.
Chambers admitted to the Daily News the game is provocative, but said it's intended to get students to pay attention and debate the issue of illegal immigration.
But NYU is not the first campus to hold such an event.
Colleges in Texas also have reportedly tested the game, while College Republicans at the University of Pennsylvania planned a similar game last April. People were invited to "catch" group members wearing orange shirts symbolizing illegal aliens. But some on campus decried the event, so the Republican group instead hosted an illegal immigration awareness day where both sides of the debate were able to air their views on immigration policies.
Campus President Graham Spanier labeled the original idea of a game "unproductive and offensive."
Such activities also caused an uproar last year during the political campaigns.
Offbeat campaign activities reportedly put together by a GOP college organizer at the University of Michigan involved a 'Catch an Illegal Immigrant' game, as well as activities like shooting cardboard cutouts of leading Democrats with a BB gun or paintball gun. Congressional Republicans distanced themselves from those activities.
FOXNews.com's Liza Porteus contributed to this report.