Controversy Over ‘Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit’ Sticker
To say that illegal immigration is a hot issue in our country right now is an understatement. Many would argue that President Obama is catering to illegal immigrants, and others believe it was Romney's stance on immigrants that lost him the Latino vote. With tempers rising on both sides, at what point does someone cross the line? How about a bumper sticker of an Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit?
Outcry over the bumper sticker began in Eaton, Colorado at a Cenex gas station. Cenex's parent company, Agfinity Inc., received a large amount of complaints for patrons, many of whom accused the sticker of promoting and inciting violence towards immigrants. Agfinity quickly responded on their facebook page saying,
"We at Agfinity deeply regret the concern this issue related to bumper stickers that had been for sale in our store has raised in our community. We have removed the bumper sticker display from our stores. As an organization, we do not condone offensive messages of this nature,”
The sticker, credited to the company Central States Novelty, isn't the first time this particular hunting permit has caused controversy. In 2011, CafePress.com removed a t-shirt with the same message from its website after many complaints and a petition submitted to the site. Activist Victor Hoelscher wrote in a petition to CafePress,
"This product has absolutely no use other than to spread, incite, promote and justify racial hatred, violence, xenophobia, and other forms of hatred based on intolerance and to demonize immigrants as invaders who should be shot on sight,"
A very serious question that has been brought up by such controversies is the question of racism. Many Latino groups have cited such "jokes" as not just anti-illegal immigrant, but anti-Latino. While many would argue against such a statement, it does have its merits. When you think of illegal immigrants, what ethnicity do you think of? When people speak about illegal immigration reform, which believe me is necessary, are they concerned about people illegally crossing the border up north, or people outstaying their visas from the UK or other European countries? Recently, a Mexican restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina received national exposure for selling shirts with the words, "How To Catch an Illegal Immigrant" over a picture of a box over a taco as bait. After the media attention over the shirt, there was an increase in sales and the shirt was worn by Texas Border Patrol agents.
Is this sticker “all in good fun”, or is this as racially offensive as people have complained? If it is just a joke people are taking too seriously, would it still be a light-hearted joke if “Illegal Immigrant” were replaced with another descriptor like someone’s political or religious affiliation?