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Immigrant-smuggling app stirs controversy

February 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A soon-to-be released Apple app game is drawing fire from immigrant rights groups.

In Smuggle Truck, players try to keep illegal immigrants in their pick-up truck as they maneuver through rocky, desert terrain on their way to cross the border.

The game's creators say on their website they were "Inspired by the frustration our friends have experienced in trying to immigrate to the U.S. we felt the best way to criticize it was with interactive satire."

The top prize in the game is a green card.

Some see the humor in the game.

"If you're from a certain background, you might find it less offensive, you might be able to laugh at it," said Robert Dekle of South Pasadena.

But immigrant rights activists aren't laughing.

"It's racist, it's part of a dehumanizing campaign being perpetrated against immigrants in this country," said Peta Lindsay of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

"Boycotting this type of game and boycotting the company is certainly an effective tool," said Dr. John Fernandez of the Full Rights for Immigration Coalition.

For those who have made the treacherous journey, being parodied is tough to watch.

"My dad was an immigrant and it looks hurtful to see that," said South Los Angeles resident Justin Whiley.

"We maintained a meticulous eye to avoid depicting stereotypes and specific locales," the company said in a statement.

The game's creators didn't return calls seeking comment.

The game is set to officially launch for the iPhone and iPad in March.