updated 2/28/2007 8:54:45 AM ET 2007-02-28T13:54:45

National Democrats on Tuesday urged Republican Party chairman Mel Martinez to stop the independent College Republicans from holding "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" events around the country.

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Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean and Ramona Martinez, chair of the Democratic National Committee's Hispanic caucus, sent a letter to the GOP chairman asking him to put a halt to the events.

"These despicable tactics have no place in our public discourse or on our college campuses," the letter said.

The game is a variation of hide and seek, with one player posing as an illegal immigrant and everyone else trying to find the person. The winner usually gets a prize.

Tracy Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said "we find these activities both egregious and offensive and condemn them wholeheartedly." But she noted the College Republicans are independent of the RNC: "We do not control their activities."

Democrats sent a similar letter to chairman Martinez's predecessor Ken Mehlman in September last year, noting that College Republicans were holding similar "catch an illegal immigrant" events in Pennsylvania and Texas. The RNC condemned the activities at the time.

The DNC noted that the game was recently played at New York University and drew several hundred students. Students at other colleges also have played the game.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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