February 2007  
Hundreds Protest NYU Republicans’
Racist “Illegal Immigrant” Hunt

FEBRUARY 23 –  Yesterday the College Republicans at New York University (NYU) staged a blatant racist provocation – a “game” of  “catch the illegal immigrant.” This grotesque stunt unleashed an outpouring of anger among NYU students and many others. More than 400 protesters turned out and kept up a steady din for three hours, chanting, picketing and drowning out the handful of racist vigilantes. Protesters’ signs included “Racism is Not a Game,” “No One is Illegal” “Legalize, Don’t Criminalize Immigrants” and “Un Mundo Sin Fronteras/A World Without Borders.” Demonstrators chanted “What do we want? —immigrant rights, When do we want them? Now!”  The racists clearly sought to draw media attention, which they did. But what was vividly shown was the overwhelming repudiation of their chauvinist filth.

Internationalist Group protests racist vigilantes at NYU.

The NYU event was only the latest chapter in a nationwide campaign by campus right-wingers. It started at North Texas University, in the spring of 2005 where the Young Conservatives chased members wearing orange T-shirts with the words “illegal immigrant” around campus. In April of last year, the College Republicans at Penn State tried the same ploy but were stymied by 150 students and faculty protesters. Last fall, the ultra-rightist Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) at Michigan State U. and College Republicans at the University of Michigan announced plans for a similar manhunt. While cynically pretending this is just “fun and games,” they’re clearly imitating the Minuteman Project vigilantes who for the last two years have been targeting immigrants along the Mexican border, where a number have been shot and killed.

This is deadly serious. As a homemade sign at the NYU protest declared, “Thousands Have Died on Our Borders. This Is Not a Game.” Some of the “official” printed slogans appealed to conservative sentiments like “Immigrant Values are Family Values,” and at one point some demonstrators chanted for a “debate” with the wannabe vigilantes who were going to put on stickers saying “INS,” the acronym for the hated migra immigration cops, now known as ICE (for Immigration Control and Enforcement Division of the Homeland Security Department). But many in the crowd understood that there is nothing to discuss with these proponents of racist terror. Last September when hundreds came out at Columbia University to denounce a speech by Minutemen führer Jim Gilchrist, he hightailed it off the stage while his minions punched anti-racist protesters. 

Photos: Manny Patiño/El Diario-La Prensa

At the NYU protest, the Internationalist Group carried signs calling for “Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants,” “Mobilize NYC Labor to Defend Immigrant Workers” and “Sweep Racist Vigilantes Off the Streets!”  A number of demonstrators joined us in chanting “Racist vigilantes out of New York” and “Racists out!” We distributed leaflets highlighting the struggle for unionization by immigrant workers in Brooklyn. The need to bring the power of the working class to bear is key. The fact that such racist scum are raising their heads today is a reflection of the defeat last year of the drawn-out strike of graduate students at NYU by the vicious union-busting of university president John Sexton. A solid victory by campus unions acting together would put Sexton’s auxiliaries on the run.

The sinister “game” by these right-wing xenophobes is not some kind of “Animal House” antics of a bunch of lunatic fringe morons. These are Ivy League careerists like those in the mid-1980s who destroyed a shantytown at Dartmouth that was protesting university complicity with apartheid slavery in South Africa. Some graduated to become operatives in the Republican Party “dirty tricks” department, like Reaganite Lee Atwater who orchestrated campaigns to intimidate black and Latino voters at the polls. Others went on to run imperialist war from the corridors of the Pentagon, design police-state repression by the “Justice” Department and plan the destruction of social welfare programs at the Heritage Foundation. But they don’t have to be Republicans: the Democrats have supported every one of these vicious attacks, while Democratic president Bill Clinton pushed through the 1996 immigration “control” act.

The current crop of junior G-men may yearn to be commandants in the Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo torture camps of U.S. imperialism. Whatever their sick ambitions, now is the time to stop them in their tracks. n

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com