Friday, March 17, 2006

Immigrants and Reality TV

From the Los Angeles Times

Immigration -- the game

Rosa Brooks, March 17, 2006

HERE'S AN IDEA for a reality TV show. Call it "Aliens."

The contestants will be drawn from the U.S. Congress. To start, they'll have their credit cards, cellphones, computers and cars confiscated. Next, they'll be sent with their families to live in rural villages and urban shantytowns in poor countries. Each will be assigned a menial job in his new home, for which he will receive a dollar a day.

Most members of Congress won't last more than a few episodes, of course. Their kids will quickly lose the puppy fat that comes from a hearty American diet and instead gain the bloated tummies that characterize children with nutritional deficiencies. This development will frighten off the faint of heart.

The remaining contestants will be given the opportunity to compete in an even tougher game. They'll be instructed to make their way to a distant country, but they won't be provided with money, a passport or transportation. Hardships along the route will include fording flood-prone rivers, crossing dangerous deserts on foot and evading the armed gangs of smugglers and traffickers who will attempt to rob, rape and kidnap them. Contestants will then have to covertly cross a border into a country guarded by armed agents.

Those who make it will then have to find food, shelter and employment in a place where they don't know the language and are in constant danger of being detected, detained and deported by the authorities. The only jobs available to them will be low-paying and often backbreaking labor.

What's the prize, you ask? Any contestants who manage to survive a full season will be offered the opportunity to draft a new immigration reform bill for the United States.

"Aliens" would have an enormous natural audience in the two-thirds of Americans polled who disapprove of Congress' job performance. And one thing's for sure: The resulting immigration reform bill would look nothing like the reform bill under consideration in Congress. For the rest of the story:,0,6897771.column?coll=la-home-commentary


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