Web Site Questions Immigrant Stereotypes

Frustrated by the political rhetoric surrounding the illegal immigration debate, a political consultant and a Web designer are launching an Internet campaign aimed at shattering stereotypes about Latinos and getting them involved.

The site for the new "I am a Proud American" campaign, http://www.iamaproudamerican.com, was designed to cross ethnic and social lines and hook people, young and old, creators Bettina Nava and Max Fose said.

"Were hoping it's edgy, it's controversial," said Nava, a Republican political consultant who has worked with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "I don't know what the impact this endeavor is going to have in the end, but we couldn't sit back and hear this rhetoric.

"I hope it causes people to pause, and question stereotypes."

The two are working on a series of short films for the site designed to do just that.

In one, a Hispanic man is mowing the lawn of a giant home in an affluent neighborhood. A blonde pulls up in a BMW and asks the man how much he charges to landscape the home.

He replies, "Why would I charge to landscape my own yard?" An on-screen message appears: "I am an American."

The campaign comes on the heels of massive demonstrations as Congress considers immigration reform. Some lawmakers want tougher punishment for illegal immigrants and fences along the border. President Bush has called for a guest worker program under which participants could gain legal status for a time but be required to return home.

In discussing immigration reform, Bush and others have repeatedly referred to illegal immigrants doing jobs that Americans won't do.

It is that sort of impression that Nava and Fose created their Web site to challenge.

On Monday, they also were launching a massive e-mail campaign to tell registered voters about the site, http://www.iamaproudamerican.com, and encourage them to become politically active by the end of the month.