Transborder Immigrant Tool helps Mexicans cross over safely

Vice has an interview with b.a.n.g lab's Ricardo Dominguez about the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a GPS device based on a cheap cell phone that will help Mexican immigrants safely cross the border."
For the past few years you've been working on the Transborder Immigrant Tool, which sounds like it's really going to chafe the asses of millions of people--civilians and government entities alike. What was the impetus for this project?
My research lab at Calit2 is called BANG Lab, which stands for Bits, Atoms, Neurons, and Genes. One of the areas I've focused on since I've been in San Diego is developing what we call border-disturbance technologies.

What is the device, exactly?
We looked at the Motorola i455 cell phone, which is under $30, available even cheaper on eBay, and includes a free GPS applet. We were able to crack it and create a simple compasslike navigation system. We were also able to add other information, like where to find water left by the Border Angels, where to find Quaker help centers that will wrap your feet, how far you are from the highway--things to make the application really benefit individuals who are crossing the border.

Are you worried that you're going to rile anti-immigration militias?
One of the first things we did at BANG Lab was to interfere with the Minuteman Project in 2005. They were quite angry because not only were we committing public actions against them, but Calit2 and the UCSD system were also supporting it. They're well aware of who we are and what we do. Once they get full knowledge of the Transborder Immigrant Tool--and we're very transparent about it--I'm sure they'll be quite critical.

The Transborder Immigrant Tool Helps Mexicans Cross Over Safely


  1. If somebody commits the victimless crime of crossing the border while using your device, and then commits a new crime involving identifiable victims, such as rape, murder or manslaughter, would your company accept moral responsibility? It sounds fun and compassionate to help the huddled masses from the south safely cross, but it’s dangerously naive to assume everyone who circumvents legal immigration laws are pure at heart.

      1. yish-
        “as opposed to legal citizens, who are all law abiding Samaritans?”

        Where did that come from? I never inferred that all U.S. citizens are law abiding…but are you saying that if we have known criminals in this country then we have no obligation or interest in monitoring who enters? I’ll be the first to agree that many aliens are honest people who just want to better their lives, but many circumvent the process because they know they would be denied because of their criminal record in their country of origin. Anonymous #1

  2. Assuming all illegal mexican immigrants are peace-loving feel good people who only want to work is as bad as assuming they are all here to cause trouble. Some of the people coming north across the border are involved in the drug trade or fleeing the law, or simply acting as predators to the legitimate and honest workers who are coming north to work. Surely it’s not in anyone’s best interests to help these people make it here safely?
    If all this misdirected energy and technology was spent on putting through legislation to have a more fair and sane guest worker program and immigration reforms, we could possible solve this mess so that it benefits both potential immigrants and current u.s. citizens.

  3. I am sickened by this. No, I’m not a “Right Winger” but I do agree that illegal immigration is a problem, though my solution involves simply enforcing existing laws, focusing on employers. Dry up the pot, they won’t cross over.

    The real problem is that Mexico has deep problems and is overdue a revolution. I don’t bear malice to the Mexicans. The phrase “Don’t judge a man till you’ve been standing in his shoes” applies, except I pray I and other Americans don’t end up that desperate. And if I was a Mexican, I’d want to join their revolution and fight the corrupt government (they blew up a gas pipeline to a Hershey’s plant a while back!) but my family would hold me back. I’d have relatives who’d need me and if I fought I’d just end up dead with little to show for it. So I’d risk going north, being treated like subhuman vermin to get money and send it home…

    The rich elite on our side are using one group of people against another. And America has tolerated this for years, except now it’s affecting the mainstream like it did in the great depression. The rich elite in Mexico use this as a “Pressure valve” to keep their revolution manageable.

    What needs to be done is stop this false economy. No more illegal immigrants hired or employers face the full weight of the law. If they hire 8 illegals, they get the book thrown at then and when they get out of jail, they go through the whole thing again 7 times. Have CEO’s dragged from boardrooms by bounty hunters because one of their chain stores had an illegal worker in some midwestern state. It could stop real quick.

    And the Mexicans would go home and having no other choice, they’d fight as hard as they work. I’m for giving them money, food, even weapons to help as they return. It’d be something we should do in the true revolutionary spirit of our founding fathers and a final “Remember the Alamo!”. Not racist, but the fact that Mexico’s elite are the heirs of those that butchered Davy Crockett and others at that famous standoff.

    1. There is about 11 million illegal mexicans in the US. 3 to 4 million Salvadorans… Illegals combined with all the other countries count to roughly 25 million. The Population of Mexico is estimated to be 100 million, which means there is 10% of mexico’s workforce in the US. 30% of Mexico’s PIB is counted from the money all the migrants send home. the Other 30% comes from Oil Revenue… Mexico only Produces 40% of it’s PIB with 90% of it’s population.
      It is a well know fact that the best Mexico export, is it’s workforce. young people just out of 12th grade or high school (at best) cross the border to find a better way. even graduates have to follow, there is no growth in Mexico (Just Expansion). 30% of the Jobs in Mexico is trough government (Federal, State, Municipal) jobs… What is it with this society!.
      It may take a revolution… I could blame it all to the “White Man”… but that’s not true anymore… The corruption, politics and low education (at best) makes a great recipe for disaster.
      Sure you have a product that may help people cross more safely…
      But Until the US government does it’s part and Mexicans can clean the house properly… I see illegal immigration happening for days to come.
      SLAVES OF THE ERA MODERNA. Low paid human beings that get treated like shit, all in the effort to survive and have a descent life for themselves and their families back home.
      Am I saying this is the case with all of them?, surely not. there is always space for the rotten apple, but most people will be happy with some sort of guest worker program…
      something that will let them see the family every now and then… cultivate their fields… have the dream of coming home soon… for most the American Dream is there no more… heck, even for Americans is a nightmare.
      By the way… Illegal Immigration is not comprised of Mexicans only… please check the data.. speak the facts. Be Happy!!.

    2. I completely agree w/ you, it’s like you read my mind.

      I use exactly what you said about stopping illegal immigration as a basis to tell people why I hate O’Reilly/Dobbs/Beck altogether; people who need a scapegoat want to blame illegal immigrants for issue X and people who don’t care or benefit are apathetic about the whole situation and play dumb. If you focus on the employers illegal immigration would stop altogether. As a 1st generation Mexican-American w/ strong ties to the immigrant community I can say that all illegal immigrants I know would rather be back in their countries living w/ their families and be working just as hard as they are here.

      The type of hate that can be generated towards illegal immigrants amongst people I know boggles my mind. It gets so bad sometimes that it kind of makes me understand how Hitler pulled off the holocaust by scapegoating the Jews.

      Mexico is indeed overdue for a revolution. I wouldn’t know how they would start it though; my family, all in Mexico City, have an analogous lifestyle to ours albeit in a more difficult way.

  4. For the past few years you’ve been working on the Transborder Immigrant Tool,
    which sounds like it’s really going to chafe the asses of millions of people

    Oh, the comments section for this post is going to be so much fun.

    I have to say, I do like it when people annoy the Minute Men (pronounced: mī-ˈnüt men).

    1. Yes, the lower middle class is most amusing, is it not? Let us look down upon them and laugh. Meanwhile, let us simultaneously frustrate the efforts of those Mexicans who would try to reform the notoriously corrupt Mexican government, while, at the same time, we can make the United States more like Mexico! Which is great for us elites on either side of the border, if not so much for the peons below us!

      1. Yes, the lower middle class is most amusing, is it not? Let us look down upon them and laugh.

        Who died and made the Minutemen the universal representatives for lower-middle class people? Methinks you stereotype too much.

        Meanwhile, let us simultaneously frustrate the efforts of those Mexicans who would try to reform the notoriously corrupt Mexican government, while, at the same time, we can make the United States more like Mexico!

        How is letting people die in the desert going to help? But hey, I guess it’s okay for a person to die of dehydration if it means that it will encourage others to risk their families lives to form a revolutionary cell- somehow. Perhaps. In theory.

        Also see: Harm Reduction

  5. Congrats, you just invented a way the border patrol can track down illegal immigrants… drive along the vast barren desert looking for cell signals that aren’t coming from your car using off the shelf law enforcement scanner technology. Thanks, that’s really going to help us track these people down!

    The Desert: Darwin’s immigration exam.

  6. Assuming all illegal mexican immigrants are peace-loving feel good people who only want to work is as bad as assuming they are all here to cause trouble.

    Actually, weapons streaming from the US into Mexico are arming the drug lords. The US is responsible for the crime wave in Mexico, not the other way around.

    1. Sez Antinous: “Actually, weapons streaming from the US into Mexico are arming the drug lords. The US is responsible for the crime wave in Mexico, not the other way around.”



        The lack of a co-ordinated US strategy to combat the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico has fuelled drug violence there, a US government watchdog says. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a report published on Thursday, says key US agencies have failed to work together. Authorities in Mexico, which has seen a jump in drug-related murders, have long urged the US to tackle arms-smuggling.

    2. Actually, weapons streaming from the US into Mexico are arming the drug lords. The US is responsible for the crime wave in Mexico, not the other way around.

      #71 – you fool. Do your own research. Mexico’s government specifically bans the sale of many types of guns (primarily high-powered weapons and anything automatic). These types of guns are freely availble in the US. It is common knowledge that Mexican cartels go to gun shows and buy HUNDREDS/THOUSANDS of firearms that are banned in Mexico. Drugs enter the US via Mexico, guns & money go out. If you don’t know the simple basics of a story, then don’t weigh-in with your misguided opinion.

      Thanks Anti – gotta keep pressing this point because most analysis of this issue pays no regard to the fact that US companies are profiting from these sales and undermining Mexico’s own efforts to clean up their act.

      Any tool that can help save the life of anyone gets a double-thumbs-up. Anyone claiming otherwise should be left in the desert with no water themselves or be made to play Russian Roulette once a month for the rest of their lives. These are the options the current system presents to most Mexicans.

      The concept held within the words “there, but for the grace of god, go I” is not lost on me, yet in a highly religious country like the US it is amazing these words are routinely forgotten.

    3. “Assuming all illegal mexican immigrants are peace-loving feel good people who only want to work is as bad as assuming they are all here to cause trouble.”
      “Actually, weapons streaming from the US into Mexico are arming the drug lords. The US is responsible for the crime wave in Mexico, not the other way around.”

      The presence of US weaponry certainly doesn’t help, but it’s probably not the root cause

      We have American guns sneaking north into Canada too; smuggled American guns are used in something like 80% of Toronto’s gun crimes, if I remember the figure thrown around in the last election correctly. But we don’t have anything like the crime problems of Mexico. Ergo, the guns are not the cause, although they are probably an aggravating factor.

      We need Canadian minute men to keep US guns where they belong – in the US.

  7. “Transborder Immigrant Tool helps Mexicans cross over safely”

    Sucks for Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Panamanians and all the other whatevers from Central and South America.

  8. This is awesome. Not as awesome as open borders would be, or as awesome as the US stopping economically and environmentaly preying upon Mexico, but awesome nonetheless.

  9. Now wait a minute here, is this thing designed to make
    more people try to cross the border, or to make it safer
    for the people who ARE going to try to cross with or
    without this technology?

    Those illegal alien workers help our businesses to prosper and I assume that a lot of the money they earn is being used to buy goods from American businesses, so I really don’t have a problem with them being here.

  10. Surely it’s not in anyone’s best interests to help these people make it here safely?

    Who’s interest does it serve to have “these people” die lost in the desert?

    The problem of illegal immigration absolutely needs to be addressed, and I hope that someday we can find solutions that will remove the incentives for people to risk everything to cross the border illegally. Possibly some combination of helping Mexico improve their economy so that people will not feel so desperate they are willing to risk their lives to seek work in the US and a realistic guest worker program so workers can enter the country legally can be achieved eventually, but until that time I can’t find it within myself to wish that some of those who are the most in need die in the desert to discourage others from crossing illegally.

    Until the governments in the two countries can fix the underlying causes of illegal immigration, I say bravo to BANG labs for working to save peoples lives.

  11. Why on earth wouldn’t they spend their time and energy developing a system that would *help* the border patrol, to make better use of a smaller number of people? With better technology to locate people crossing the border, they could be caught and sent back before they harm themselves or die of thirst, starvation or exhaustion. And every additional person caught by the border patrol is rescued from a fate at the hands of the crazy Minutemen…

    1. “rescued from a fate at the hands of the crazy Minutemen…”

      The ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, ANSWER and numerous other well-funded, pro illegal immigration organizations watch members of the Minuteman Project for the slightest violation. Tell me, please, what fate awaits those who are reported by the Minutemen? I suspect it’s a better outcome than those who are kidnapped and raped by smugglers.

  12. wow. amazing.

    I think the majority who attempt to cross the border though the desert are mostly those without means or connections…think women and children. It’s extremely treacherous, and many do die attempting it. It’s no wonder religious and humanitarian groups try to give assistance. Smugglers, potential terrorists and other bad people often have the means and connections to come over via more direct routes—like in cars. I think the reality is the concept of hard borders is and will continue to be problematic and difficult to enforce. We are a nation of immigrants and will continue to be.

  13. How funny are those silly peasants — I suppose we may call them “red-necks,” even if they are African-American — who complain that their menial jobs will be taken from them. Do they know nothing of the free market and the invisible hand? Who are they to complain that their employment will be taken by immigrants from third-world counries, who will work under the table? The price of labor is what the market will bear! Harden your hearts to their mendacious claims that they cannot support their children! The first duty of the government is to assure that labor remains cheap and expendible.

    1. you mean the jobs that immigrants do that no one else will because they are too low paying or suck too much? Like picking fruit. No one but immigrants want to pick fruit because the job sucks.

  14. Lots of people here arguing that illegal immgrants facing the long trek through the desert include some criminals, so this life-saving tool is sickening or wrong. What?

    I grew up in Nogales, Arizona, on the border. Hundreds of people, sometimes entire families, die in the desert *every year* trying to make it to the United States. Even if you believe they all deserve to be punished no matter their motives, death by heatstroke and dehydration is a harsh penalty.

    This is a human rights issue and I’m disappointed in how quickly some BoingBoing readers jumped to score political points on immigration.

    1. The reason people die making the trek North is because their home country sucks so much that they are willing to take the terrible risk of crossing to get a crappy job in the U.S. I would do the same if I were in their position. This will continue until their home countries suck much, much less. Mexico is particularly notable, because it directly abuts the U.S., but a huge number of people from a huge number of countries with horrible governments would prefer to live in the U.S. However, the U.S. can’t take them all without becoming a crappy country itself. It’s like a lifeboat — better to save ten people and float, rather than try to take fifty people and sink, drowning them all.

  15. So….Torn?

    I don’t want people dieing in the desert….

    but I ALSO don’t want people entering this country illegally…..

    We need reform on so many issues in America….how are we going to fix everything? Homosexual equality, health care, immigration, the economy, wars, food, famine, electricity, failing infrastructure, underfunded schools, record unemployment, I could go on for hours.

    If we just wait a few more years to fix just a few of these problems…..we won’t have to worry about “them damn mexicans” coming up here to find jobs….we’ll all be headed down there.

  16. I have a heart for immigrants and undocumented workers. but like a previous post said, the problem isn’t the workers, its the greedy people who dont want to pay a citizen a decent wage for what should be dignified jobs. Mowing a lawn and working a kitchen used to be jobs of dignity for working class folks and youngsters. BUT since we have a bunch of anti union turn coats in washington and the business community we have relaxed enforcement of labor laws and little or no enforcement. In return for giving up on worker’s rights we get a trickle down of disrespect in general for workers of ll backgrounds and typically see abuse towards undocumented workers who do make it here. To top it off this country is working hard to churn out McDummies who cant even do jobs that the undocumented workers have the cajones to do. Mexico is overdue for a revolution and so is the United Snakes…. Give it 2 more generations, the McDummies will spawn even worse off McDummies and voila! revolution against the oligarchical capitalists. burn baby burn. wish I was going to be here to see the exodus happen.

  17. I can´t believe so much angry reactions. Hobomike is right, dealers and criminals don´t need to risk their life in the desert: they are lords, they have connections. This is a great example of technology that could save lives. Even if the device is later used by the border patrol to track immigrants, people at BANG are giving people a chance to survive. No one loses with this. Americans can track immigrants and immigrants can get a better chance of surviving.

  18. Someone should also link to the stories of No More Deaths and Derechos Humanos/Human Rights volunteers, who have been convicted on federal littering charges for leaving water in the desert for people to survive on and arrested for taking three people near death to a hospital. It’s very sad.

    People aren’t going to stop coming just because we offer them no aid– they’re economic refugees. You can want people to take the legal, expensive, long route to immigration (though it’s not an option for many) and still recognize those who don’t as human.

  19. Quite an interesting interview; Dominguez is an inspiration. I am a bit concerned about the water-locating function. Even if only trusted people can enter the locations of the water, I don’t see how they can stop the “patriots” (those who fantasize about killing foreigners) from buying these tools as well, then staking out the water locations. Perhaps they should authenticate the user via a phone call before the journey begins: see if they have a convincing Spanish accent, maybe ask a some cultural questions. Then give them a code to activate the real location functions, or possibly activate it based on the phone number.

    Or, just keep leaving the water in random places. Should require less manpower than the Minoot men need to stake them out.

    It’s a really tasty project, from a purely technical point of view. And it’d be good to work on something that saves lives, instead of Increasing Shareholder Value, for a change. Hmmm…

  20. If you’re getting all uptight over this, just think of illegal immigration as bypassing regional lockout for people.

  21. Setting aside moral and political opinions, I do have to say that the invention is pretty cool in a video game-like way. I dunno much about conventional GPS, but it would be handy to have something like this for long wilderness treks and such. Maybe for hiking the Appalachian Trail, and you need to know where to go to find fresh water or where to restock other provisions.

    1. Maybe for hiking the Appalachian Trail, and you need to know where to go to find fresh water or where to restock other provisions.

      How is this related to infidelity? Provisions? Restocking? Huh? What? You talkin’ crazy now.

  22. @33
    I’ve been reading too many stupid websites and cannot tell anymore if you’re joking or not.

    Well that seems obvious now. All I’ve ever used is old-fashioned equipment; hatchet, fishing kit, compass, topo map and so on.

    1. It is a joke, sorry but I was busy with midterms during the Sanford thing, and I just feel like the whole affair and the joke-making opportunities passed me by.

  23. Aiding a criminal action is illegal. Crossing the border illegally is a crime thus this ap is a crime. Close the borders now. If they want to come here so bad let them do it legally and assimilate rather than keep to their own little Mexico enclaves.

    1. If they want to come here so bad let them do it legally and assimilate rather than keep to their own little Mexico enclaves.

      Yeah. Cuz no other immigrant group ever came to this country and made a chinatown or a little italy or…oh, wait….

  24. This thread really is a window on the US, for those of us who haven’t been there. And a shocking revelation of boingy boingy people: while we’re kind of used to a few trolls, but it’s hard to take most of the above seriously.

  25. @Old Geek: There are ghettos of wealth as surely as there are ghettos of poverty. If all you see is “crime” behind a device that will help a handful of desperately poor people find “Quaker help centers that will wrap your feet” rather than letting them lay waste in the desert – then I’m guessing that you’re probably living in the former.

  26. To the anti-illegals,

    Do you think illegal immigrants are Mexican druglords, slogging through rough terrain?

    Do you think rich white Americans who hire illegals are being forced to do so? By what mechanism?

    There are legal and ethical concerns here, but the vitriol against ‘wetbacks’ is misdirected, mostly by rich people who actively pay their employees as little as possible, and if that means illegals, well so be it.

    It’s the employers that create this situation, and most people need to realise that.

    1. #42, You mean to say that employers and wealthy business interests create incentives for illegal immigration? This is quite the revelation. Please tell us more, anonymous poster! I’m sure I’ve never seen it mentioned by an anti-immigration sources. If this is true, it changes everything! For one thing, it might mean that the H1B program is being abused. Perhaps workers – legal or illegal – aren’t being paid a fair wage somewhere! Why, the halls of power themselves might be subverted by fat cats attempting to import a more desperate and docile population to rule over!

      My God, we’ve got to tell someone!

  27. Nobody noticed we have 10.2% unemployment? And that’s the low number that deliberately doesn’t count workers who’ve given up. The first time we passed this level of workplace (non) participation was in 1978, when women were really starting to enter the workforce. We’ve lost three decades of progress. And that’s just one issue that affects people who are already here. (Including people of Mexican extraction.) There are certainly lots of problems that could use clever technical solutions.

    In fact, this solution isn’t, as these phones will serve as nice little homing beacons for border patrol or those silly Minutemen.

    But it doesn’t matter if it broadcasts their location, because the real goal is to broadcast your status as a SWPL male. Never mind the people using it. Never mind the people whose jobs would be affect if it were widely adopted and worked. (Which it won’t be anyway.) Will it get you a date with a starry-eyed activist woman with a trust fund?

  28. Seems to be a lot of frightened yanquis on this post.
    ooh! little brown men are coming to steal your shiny things!

  29. Are all the angry posters above being trucked in from some other blog, or are they actual regular readers of BoingBoing? I find the latter hard to believe.

    Sheesh, lighten up folks. I live in San Francisco, which is about as saturated by latino culture as is possible for an American city to be, and all I see are benefits. Ever look in a restaurant kitchen? Or in a farm field? And how is the fact that they’re all South and Central American immigrants hurting anyone? Sure there’s the occasional sensationalized story of some latino gang, but I think that that sort of thing is very rare, even setting aside how poor latino communities in America tend to be.

    Maybe what this country needs is more cross cultural communication so we can stop or lessen the dehumanization/demonization of latinos that appears to be under way?

    And a note to anyone reading these comments from another country: please take the anger in the above posts with a grain of salt. Most people in America aren’t bigots, its just that the bigots are really angry and watch too much Lou Dobbs and imagine its their duty to get other people angry too. But they don’t speak for all Americans by any means.

    1. Sheesh, lighten up folks. I live in San Francisco, which is about as saturated by latino culture as is possible for an American city to be, and all I see are benefits. Ever look in a restaurant kitchen? Or in a farm field? And how is the fact that they’re all South and Central American immigrants hurting anyone?

      Spkn lk tr prvlgd SF hpstr dch. Speaking as someone who’s washed dishes, done landscaping, done shit construction, and picked strawberries, thanks. You’ve just made our points for us. You don’t see anything wrong with having a permanent underclass because you want to signal that you’ve never been and never will be hungry enough to look at those jobs with lust in your heart. But there are a lot of people out there who have. And will never forget it.

  30. Hundreds of people die every year trying to cross the deserts along the US-Mexico border. Most of them from heat and dehydration.

    There’s lots of room for disagreement over how the US and the countries to its south should handle the ongoing migration northward. And there’s plenty of blame to go around for various failures of public policy.

    But nobody deserves to die for it.

  31. If it were easier to enter America legally, people wouldn’t risk death crossing the desert to do it. I’m foreign, I’ve been through the tourist visa process, it’s ridiculous and demeaning. Did you know this hard-to-obtain visa is not a guarantee of entry, but only a permission to ask permission for entry? I know people who have flown across the ocean only to be turned away at the border and made to fly right back again, for no good reason.

    And I like America, it’s a cool country, but every time someone says ‘they shouldn’t try to come here illegally’ I just sigh. Why do you think they’re trying to escape from their third world hell into a country that proclaims itself to be the land of freedom and opportunity and is filled with virtually nothing but immigrants and their children? For kicks? To annoy those who got there a few decades earlier? They risk their lives for the fun of it?

    No, they risk their lives because they are desperate. Their method may not deserve support, but they deserve compassion and respect and not to be treated like pests. I have relatives currently in the US who came over years ago and stayed, illegally. They were fleeing from a repressive, communist government. They wanted to live in a country that respected freedom, where, even working in jobs well below their potential, they would not be denied basic human rights. I don’t think that’s an insult to America.

  32. Wow — 50 comments demonstrating the tensions of framing the +/- issues of citizenship queue-jumping by our southern neighbors, and not a single remark exploring the plight of the journalists charged with covering this story: do you acronymize the “Transborder Immigration Tool”, or don’t you? Think of the copyeditors!

    (Sorry if I missed the memo that lighthearts should take the day off.)

  33. let me put it this way.if these peoplewere held to the same standards and requirements as american subcontractors,they’d be no better off than they were in mexico.i’ve seen these guys take my job and now i’m doing prep work so they can come in and do what used to be my can they pay 23%social security,20%+ workers compensation insurance and income tax,live in the usa,and send money home?don’t kid yourselves folks i have friends who are in trouble with the irs because they can’t change their names at will.

  34. Getting into the US without the proper paperwork is an administrative transgression, not a crime comparable to robbery, etc. People migrating to where work is available is natural and make sense. As for unemployment among those of us who crossed the border a few generations ago, there are many factors. Assisting people through barriers to become contributing members of our economy is good and useful. Reducing the chance of desperate people dying in the attempt is humane and important.

  35. Er, sorry Izzzzzy but I was referencing hassan-i-sabbah. Sorry I wasn’t more clear (BB needs better comment threading).

    “Seems to be a lot of frightened yanquis on this post.
    ooh! little brown men are coming to steal your shiny things!”

    Feel free to continue anyway :-)

    1. One thing I’ve noticed about “progressives” is their frequent inability to discuss issues without the racist tendency to label groups of people and their refusal to recognize individuals. Hassan-i-sabbah’s comment referenced in the above post regarding “little brown men coming to steal your shiny things” is amazingly lazy and two-dimensional. My issue with illegal immigration is not about race. Many immigrants are kidnapped and further victimized by the human smugglers who bring them across. And while you trivialize the crimes they commit (Steal your shiny things), you wouldn’t be so flip if one of your family members was killed by a drunk driver here illegally.

  36. Yeah, I made a gadget like this once, but it was to help hitchhikers from other worlds to get here via Vogon construction vessels (with a little Dentrassi help). Don’t underestimate the trouble the Minutemen can make for you – I’m still in hiding from the Men in Black…

  37. The last I checked UCSD and CALIT2 were funded by the State of California. So proud to see our tax dollars being used to break Federal law. Did this team also release the child porn download virus, to help all of those poor pedophiles in their defense against those nasty Feds? Viva la revolucion!

    1. Designing cartographic software identifying places where people can find water in the desert is against federal law? Show me the statute. Last I checked you can still buy lovely bongs for smoking tobacco and small electronic balances for weighing your sugar packets. You can also still download microtorrent for free! Le GASP!

      (Also the “federal” in “federal law” starts with a lowercase “f”- it’s really not that important.)

  38. They need to make one for all immigrants, everywhere, so people escaping genocide in Rwanda or Serbia, fleeing dictatorship and economic apocalypse in Zimbabwe, or fleeing oppressive governments anywhere (someday maybe even your country, including the USA), can use a similar device.

  39. I find it pretty hard to get worked up over illegal immigration. I am pretty sure a non-trivial portion of my ancestry crossed more than couple of borders illegally or when the immigration check was a rubber stamp on Ellis Island. In fact, for most Americans there is a very non-trivial chance that your ancestors did a little border hoping themselves.

    Personally, I think that people willing to brave a deserts guarded by barbed wire, government authorities, and gun wielding red necks only to be dumped naked into a land where they speak a foreign language and the average family has the income of your entire village are actually EXACTLY the type of hardy bad asses that we should be letting in. These are just modern day American pioneers.

  40. If you believe in free markets, then the free movement of people is part of this. The people helping people to cross borders safely are defending freedom.

  41. The Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) does not offer a scan bounce signal for triangulation (you would have to use it as a cell phone for that to occur- a dire emergency contingency that is recommended). A single GPS bounce with a “no airport” setting establishes compass mode. The issues of where water is located, support communities, etc., would only be available for access for a few days – the information would have to be refreshed before it could be initiated and warnings in multiple languages will be issued:

    It is also important to understand that the tool is also a discursive engine that foregrounds the possibilities for locative media and a disturbance of the social fields that gather around the question of the border and those who cross it.
    Very best,
b.a.n.g lab/EDT (P.I. Ricardo Dominguez

  42. What are national borders? What does it mean to be on one side or the other of them? What do we need them for?

    As information technology waxes, the answers to these questions become more and more vague and murky. Soon, the questions will be completely rhetorical. This cellphone tool is another step along that path.

  43. The reason most mojados are here is that NAFTA let US Agribusinesses flood Mexico with real cheap corn. The campesinos couldn’t compete, & so went north to survive. So groups like the Minute Men & US Border Watch should be picketing the offices of Archer Midland & Cargill. Though, if you have noticed, undocumented immigration has dropped since the Lesser Depression started. Lots of immigrant jobs were in the construction industry, & the markets have collapsed. Many immigrants have gone home. Arrests for border crossings have dropped.
    Two more points.
    What is it with the posters who fantasize about a modern Mexican Revolution? A revolution won’t be like a big role playing game, jack. Look at what has happened in Somalia or Afghanistan after the Russians left or even Iraq. The current violence would be multiplied. Jesus. I hope y’all do think of yourselves as Burt Lancaster in THE PROFESSIONALS & join in for funsies.
    Also, the poster who wrote about Remember the Alamo: Tejanos, Texas born Mexicans, were part of the Texas Revolution. Juan Seguin would have died at the Alamo, but they sent him out to get help. He lead a troop of Tejanos at the battle of San Jacinto, helping win Texas’ independence. He was a trusted member of the Republic of Texas & mayor of San Antonio. But after the revolution, Texas was flooded by frontier trash & speculators, neither of whom cared that many Tejanos fought for Texas independence. ‘Cowboy’ originally meant someone was a rustler and/or horse-thief. Rancheros all over Texas were depopulated of stock. Juan Seguin had to flee to Mexico finally & was promptly jailed. He was released only when he agreed to join an invasion of Texas, which failed. He was an exile for many years & finally came back to Texas to die in the late 19th century.

  44. Ever gone to work really, really early, maybe even take a route along the backways of your town?

    No, thought not. The guys queueing ’round the back of some very well-known shops and fast-food outlets for casual work – cleaning, running the trash compactor – are mostly Mexican and, further North in the USA, African-American.

    You never see Anglos queueing. Never, not ever: they don’t want it – even in the recession, when some of them actually need it – and the work simply won’t get done if the Mexicans didn’t come north illegally.

    Ditto for a hell of a lot of work in agriculture that city folks never hear of (and I hear that the Germans had some crop – asparagus? – rot in the fields when they stopped the Eastern European illegals. It isn’t Just America that has a more of a problem with the politics of immigration than the real-life economics).

    Next time you think about repeating the crap you hear about illegal migrants stealing the jobs and food from poor whites, take an early-morning walk around the back lot of a 7-11. I have no idea what it is that ‘white trash’ actually want, even if they exist, but their problem isn’t lack of work and I very much doubt that the Minutemen and anti-immigration politicians are speaking with their best interests in mind.

  45. The real problem is Americans do not have ID for their own citizens. The solution is to chip everyone in the country, and then install millions of readers at every road junction throughout the country.

    You could not walk 10 paces before being identified as not possessing a valid chip. Illegal immigrants would not have those chips. Legal immigrants will have chips, which will allow them to only travel between their registered residence and workplace. The moment the step outside the approved corridors, the INS will swoop in and arrest them. First offense, a fine. Third offense, gets you booted from the country.

    This system will also eliminate all crime, or at least catch criminals almost immediately. The state knows where everyone is, at all times. When a crime is committed, you only need to check the computer to see who was in the vicinity in that time. This will also help you catch all those pesky terrorists. (I’m just throwing that in sentence to get some people to support the idea. :) )

  46. If you consider that most of your ancestors came from Europe about 300 years ago, you all descend from immigrants, which should be considered before you “flame” the “nowadays” immigrants.
    So before you start to criticize the immigrants’ intentions, think about what were the reasons that lead your great or grandparents to this country.
    The american feeling about immigration can be compared to a single-child family, where the son doesnt want his parents to have another kid, cause he doesnt want to loose their attention. So he doesnt want anybody else to join the family. Take this felling and amplify it about 100x and we get the anti-immigrant ideology.
    Its pure Egoism.

  47. This is amazing. I work with a humanitarian group in AZ and we’re really tired of seeing humans die in our desert. We have a responsibility to them and by the way, Mexicans are not all criminals. Anyone who really believes that must be rather siimple-minded.

  48. Mexican illegals provide useful services in my affluent liberal area like cheap landscaping, but because they can’t afford to live here they’re gone to poor and working class neighborhoods far away at the end of the day. I get the best of both worlds, cheap Mexican labor from people I don’t have to deal with as neighbors.

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