Posted on August 5, 2004

Crossing the Line for a Chance at Legal Status

Maria Elena Fernandez, L. A. Times, Aug. 4

Some people will do anything for a green card.

Take Ariana De La Luz, who swallowed 38 grams of live tequila worms, or Diego Di Giovanni, who managed to trap a slippery pig drenched in butter, or Michael Couto, who jumped six times from one 18-wheeler traveling 60 mph to another in pursuit of six tiny green flags.

The contestants on “Gana la Verde” (Win the Green), an unscripted, Spanish-language show that airs nightly on KRCA-TV Channel 62 in Los Angeles, don’t compete for a cash prize or even fame. Instead they jump through extraordinary hoops, eat disgusting “delicacies” and perform odd jobs, all in pursuit of the American dream.

The winner of this competition walks away with a set of immigration lawyers, who for one year work to expedite the residency process. No guarantee of “la verde,” though.

. . .

Since “Gana la Verde” premiered here July 1, it has consistently reached an average of 1 million Latino households. Last week, the show was No. 2 among 18- to 49-year-old Latino viewers, the station’s target audience, in its 7 p.m. time slot. Thus far, the show has apparently gone unnoticed by immigration advocates or opponents, and the producers say they’ve received no complaints.

“Gana la Verde” recruits contestants like most reality shows do — through TV and radio ads and the Internet. There is already a waiting list, despite the fact that each week 30 contestants end up on the air.