This Halloween costume is out of this world. Or maybe just the other side of the border.
The disguise is a space alien with large oblong eyes and wearing an orange jumpsuit, similar to those worn by prison inmates. The adult-size costume comes with a card that reads “Green Card,” and until recently, it was sold at Target.com, Amazon.com, Walgreen’s and large retail online stores for $39.99.
But immigrant advocates say the costume is no laughing matter.
At least two organizations working with immigrants say the Halloween space creature pokes fun at a very specific community: undocumented immigrants.
“It’s tasteless and takes advantage of a social issue,” said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “It mocks a large community.”
He said the jail jumpsuit closely resembles what undocumented immigrants in detention facilities wear when they’re waiting to be deported.
The costume’s description reads, “He didn’t just cross the border, he crossed a galaxy!”
Cabrera’s organization and the United Farm Workers launched an e-mail campaign last week to protest the sale of the costume. They also protested a mask of a alien with green eyes that comes with a baseball cap and a large droopy mustache similar to the one worn by Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.
The farm worker group, in a letter to the Amazon’s corporate office, said the costumes “perpetuates racism and discrimination in an already hostile environment and during a period of time when the debate on immigration reform is increasingly hateful and divisive.”
Joshua Thomas, public relations with Target, said the Halloween costume was pulled from their retail online stores over the weekend before the complaints.
“It was never intended to be part of our original assortment,” Thomas said. The costume was never stocked in the physical stores, he said.
By Tuesday evening, most of the online shops including Amazon.com and Toys “R” Us nolonger had the costume for sale. Some smaller specialty shops continued to carry it.
At least one eBay seller marked up the costume to $89.99, describing it as, “funny and hard to find.”
“It was probably meant as a joke but it can be offensive, particularly to those who don’t have papers,” said Rosa Martinez, a shopper looking through the racks of Halloween costumes at Mission Thrift for her two daughters on Tuesday.
Rather than outraged, Martinez said, she felt sad to think that some people are eager to have a laugh at the cost of another’s plight.
“If I saw somebody wearing that costume I’d think, ‘Poor man, he doesn’t know where his own people came from,’” Martinez said.
Fifteen-year-old Angela Lozada, who was looking for a Halloween costume with her parents Tuesday evening in the Mission, said she was furious when she saw the costume on television.
“They went too far,” Lozada said. “It’s not funny. It’s plain wrong.”
Lozada’s father Gilberto Lozada, said he would not allow his children to purchase or wear a costume that’s intended to ridicule immigrants.
“That’s against our principles,” he said.
Hanna Q., an immigrant from Spain, said the costume is outright insulting.
“I don’t know what the creator of this was thinking. I don’t know what type of joke this is, maybe a racist joke,” she said.