Immigrants' rights groups in the United States are not amused by one of this year's Halloween costume offerings. The ‘illegal alien’ kit features an orange prison-style jumpsuit, an alien mask and a green card. "Offensive", say Latino activists. "Where's your sense of humour?" ask their critics.
Halloween is widely celebrated in America with both adults and children traditionally disguising themselves as ghouls and goblins to mark the occasion. Halloween costumes are big business. But one of this year's outfits is causing widespread controversy. ‘He didn't just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy’, is the slogan promoting the illegal alien costume.
The costume is an insult to immigrants, illegal or not, says Rosa Rosales of the league of United Latin American Citizens. "Alien is a word that we as Latinos do not like," she told RNW. "You can say they're undocumented, but they're not aliens. They're not from outer space. They're human beings."
Every year there are Halloween costumes that make fun of politicians or celebrities and some are controversial - such as the Osama bin Laden costumes that went on sale after the 9/11 attacks - but activists believe there should be a limit to making fun of others.
Listen to an interview with Rosa Rosales
No laughing matter
Illegal immigration is a divisive issue in the US. Repeated attempts at reform, including a possible amnesty for illegal immigrants, have stalled in recent months. Ms Rosales says the issue can't be treated as a joke, illegal immigrants are suffering from the treatment they're getting, and so are their - often American-born - children. Officials responsible for detaining illegal immigrants, "shackle their hands and feet...they pick them up like a bunch of cattle and then they leave their children. There's one city in Iowa where there were 200 children left without their parents."
Assault on free speech
The anti-migration reform organisation, Americans for Legal Migration, is furious at this reaction from some sections of the Latino community. President William Gheen said the campaign against the costume was "an assault on free speech, freedom of political expression and free markets across the United States". He believes the costume is not offensive but accurate. “Activists,” he says, "do not want to recognise that it is indeed illegal to immigrate to the United States without permission. They would prefer people not to be reminded of the fact that being an illegal alien can put you in jail."
Listen to an interview with William Gheen
Immigrants' rights groups have urged the Latin American community to boycott retailers and websites offering the costume for sale - a move that has resulted in its withdrawal from many outlets. Mr Gheen thinks using this kind of economic pressure is a serious danger to civil liberty. "The United States of America, the torch of freedom in the world, is under assault ... If we become enslaved by those who would control what we can say, what we can hear, what we can wear on Halloween - then God help us all."
Civil liberties cut both ways though says Ms Rosales. “They have a right to express themselves, but we also have a right to protest when we feel they're being offensive."