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Fake Border-Crossing Amusement Park Mocks Immigrant Experience

Crossing the border is not a game or a sport; it is a desperate, lonely and potentially lethal experience.

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Plus, as far as deterrence goes, it’s really not as necessary when the majority of participants are middle-class Mexicans. As PBS put it: “In other words, not the most likely group to attempt an illegal crossing into the U.S.”

Is it just me, or does this sound like a twisted way for relatively wealthy people to pretend they’re desperate and poor?

As a New York Times article put it:

The idea of tourists’ aping illegal immigrants can seem crass, like Marie Antoinette playing peasant on the grounds of Versailles. 

And, just like Marie Antoinette, these participants, while they play their mock border-crossing game, are clueless to the stark reality of the immigrant experience.

What’s worse is that PBS and  Time exhibit this cluelessness as well; there is no mention in their reports of the escalating number of  migrant deaths along the border, or the  massive immigrant detention system or the record-breaking immigrant  deportations under President Obama. This is even more troubling now due to the planned increase in border security (as well as the current blueprint of using  weaponize drones along the border) that is estimated to result in  even more deaths along the border.

So, while the founders of the park intend to dissuade would-be border crossers (a motive with merit due to the increasing probability of death along the border), the fact is what they produced not only fails to come even remotely close to what a real border crossing is like, but it also disrespects the migrant experience of crossing the ever-increasing death-zone of a border.

Crossing the border is not a game, it is not a sport, and therefore it should not be portrayed as one. And, more importantly, crossing the border is not a proud moment, it is a desperate one, a lonely one, a potentially lethal one and therefore it would be impossible to "simulate" a border crossing without these very real fears and emotions.

And PBS and  Time magazine only perpetuate this disrespect toward migrants and their experiences when they neglect to address the dangers of attempting to cross the border. In fact, their reports, which include mention of the "sweet breads and tea" and describe the attraction as an action-packed thriller, only propel the imagery and sentiments of crossing the border as being "dangerously entertaining" and "fun," and therefore something not to be taken seriously.

Alana de Hinojosa is an intern at AlterNet. Email her at alana@alternet.org, and follow her on Twitter @alanahinojosa