October 17, 2006
Andrew Boyd, President of University of Michigan’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), stood isolated among over 100 students protesting his action last Thursday as he explained the rules for “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day.” By dressing two students in “illegal immigrant” costumes and offering a $100 prize to whichever wannabe Minuteman caught them, YAF succeeded in stirring up an enormous amount of campus, state, and nationwide controversy. When it came time to play, though, only one lonely student contestant braved the snowy weather, trotting around before a Fox News camera.
It’s doubtful that YAF expected anyone to actually join in the game; the entire event was a publicity stunt. If the number of reporters and cameras there were any indication, it was a great success. And due to the presence of the aggressively pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), the Yaffies succeeded in provoking the outraged liberal response they so desperately craved. As its name indicates, BAMN fights in an uncompromising, often unorthodox, and occasionally violent manner. They have a history on the Michigan campus of clashing with other affirmative action and civil rights advocates. Their incursion onto the scene was very much to the chagrin of the far larger progressive community that was peacefully protesting in the thirty degree weather. The other protestors had planned to step back from the YAF spectacle and starve them of media attention, reserving their sentiments on xenophobia for another venue. BAMN, on the other hand, chose an approach of more direct confrontation.
It’s been my somewhat dubious honor to have been embroiled in this “catch an illegal immigrant day” fiasco since its genesis on campus over a month ago when Morgan Wilkins–whom MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann once dubbed the “worst person in the world“–came to town. I have been serving as the spokesman for the University of Michigan College Democrats on issues relating to this event ever since Wilkins suggested the “catch an illegal immigrant” idea to the Michigan student paper and sparked a national controversy.