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Controversial Show Offers Immigrants Legal Residence
7/28/04 - Notimex news release

Los Angeles, U.S.A., July 21, 2004 (Notimex) - A television show offering as the top prize legal residency for undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles caused a great deal of controversy among activists here, where it was described as "shameful", "ridiculous", and "revolting".

The show, something akin to "Fear factor" on American TV, challenges participants to eat things like raw animal entrails, even live animals such as worms, or to clean the windows of a building over 20 stories tall.

The spot on Channel 62 called "Gana la verde" promises the winning undocumented immigrant, who might feel like throwing up what he just gulped down, the company will cover the expenses of gaining legal residency in the United States.

"Even though they eat a live elephant, if U.S. immigration officials say no, it's no," said Angela Zambrano, director of the Central Americans` Refugee Center (Carecen) warning of risks for the company and the undocumented immigrants themselves.

"It's highly questionable for anyone to attain their residency in this way, it is only issued if the requestor qualifies under immigration law, therefore, the risk is that they are toying with a person's dreams," she explained.

In a separate interview, community activist Xavier Gonzalez pointed out the show "is shameful and a disgrace since it only embarrasses people, even tortures them, to see if they can have a chance at a green card."

"Watching this show is like seeing bread being offered to the famished or when the Romans threw the Christians to the lions for the people's entertainment, it's unethical," he stressed.

Besides, he explained, if a person seeking legal residency hires a good lawyer, once they qualify, the proceeding usually costs between 500 and 10 thousand dollars, therefore the prize is not really as attractive as they make it seem.

Nativo Lopez, leader of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional (HMN) said the show is only ridiculing a human condition to a degree that it plays with people's needs in a revolting manner.

"The sad part is that shows like these compete with the most revolting American TV has to offer instead of competing at a cultural level people are demeaned, it's incredible," he said.

For his part, Luis Carrillo, an attorney distinguished for his activities in favor of immigrants warned that many people will be unable to attain their residency even if they win shows of this kind, those whom the law considers legally disqualified for example.

This means that false hopes are being generated exploiting the enormous needs and despair of an entire community.

Miguel Vanogian, programming director for Channel 62 would not take any calls asking for his opinion on the show.


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