a new game for your x-box
Ever wonder what it's like to live in fear of deportation?
A new computer game claims to give players an idea. The game puts players in the shoes of immigrants as they try to evade officials and in the process tries to soften the contentious debate over immigration.
"A very large portion of the American public is not aware of how far the government has gone to strip this population of their human rights and due process," said Mallika Dutt, executive director of Breakthrough, a human-rights organization that created the computer game.
The game, which can be downloaded at breakthrough.tv, is called ICED, which stands for I Can End Deportation. The title is a play on the acronym ICE, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
It comes at a time when the federal government has stepped up arrests, detention and deportation of foreign-born persons who are either in the country illegally or who have committed deportable crimes. ICE deported 273,000 people in fiscal 2007, a 77 percent increase from 2003, when 154,000 people were deported.
Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for ICE, called the game simplistic.
"It's just a game," Mack said. "And it trivializes the immigration issue, which is very complicated and affects just about everyone in the country."
Mack said creators did not work with ICE officials to make sure the game is authentic.
She had not played the game so she could not say whether it gave a real-life portrayal of immigration enforcement. She also could not say whether any of the information contained in the game is wrong.
Players choose a variety of characters that include a green-card holder from India, a student-visa holder from Japan and an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, and then try to avoid being chased by ICE agents and deported.
Players try to earn a shot at becoming U.S. citizens by making good decisions while trying to avoid being caught, locked up and kicked out of the country.