California's last "immigrant crossing" sign is gone

Created as a stop-gap to save undocumented migrants from getting killed by cars on Interstate 5 near the San Diego area border with Mexico, the signs soon took on a symbolic use beyond the original intent. The last one appears to have been stolen and won't be replaced. The Union-Tribune spoke to Caltrans designer John Hood about the sign, which was a replacement for an all-text sign:

"It doesn't just mean they are running across the freeway," Hood told the Union-Tribune in 2005, describing his choice of imagery. "It means they are running from something else as well. I think it's a struggle for a lot of things, for opportunities, for freedom.” Caltrans installed 10 signs, focusing on areas like San Ysidro and the San Clemente checkpoint where migrants were known to cross the interstate on foot frequently. The silhouette of a man with a mustache and woman in a dress running with their young daughter, her hair in pigtails trailing behind her, has been repurposed by different sides of the immigration debate over the years.

Last iconic 'immigrant crossing sign' disappears (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Gorgeous map of ten of the world's shortest borders

Anders Kvernberg, aka PisseGuri82, created this lovely map of ten of the world's shortest borders. Here's the full-size version. Read the rest

Coalition of 100+ tech groups and leaders warn the DHS that "extreme vetting" software will be a worse-than-useless, discriminatory nightmare

In a pair of open letters to Letter to The Honorable Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland, a coalition of more than 100 tech liberties groups and leading technology experts urged the DHS to abandon its plan to develop a black-box algorithmic system for predicting whether foreigners coming to the USA to visit or live are likely to be positive contributors or risks to the nation. Read the rest

Simple steps your small organization can take to defend itself against cyberattacks

Respected security researcher Dan Wallach from Rice University has published a short (18 page) guide to securing small organizations against three kinds of cyberattack: Untargeted, ​remote ​(spammers, ​phishers, ​ransomware ​griefers, ​etc.); Targeted, ​remote ​(spear ​phishers); and Targeted, ​in ​person ​(immigration ​agents, ​police, ​criminal ​trespass). Read the rest

Applicants for the Customs and Border Protection agency keep admitting to ghastly crimes during polygraph tests

Back in April, experts warned that Trump's plan to hire 5,000 new Customs and Border Patrol officers was unlikely to succeed: the agency already loses 1,000 employees per year and a significant number of applicants are disqualified on the grounds of past bad actions, from theft to rape to drug smuggling. Read the rest

Letter from indigenous Mexican man who was denied a US visa to receive an award for internet development

Mariano Gómez is a 23 year old Tseltal from Abasolo, Chiapas, and a member of the Ikta K’op Collective; he is being given an award by the prestigious Internet Society for his work creating "a wireless Internet and Intranet network that provided connectivity and access to information to his community, which has no telephone or radio service," but will not be able to attend the awards in Los Angeles because the US embassy has denied him a tourist visa. Read the rest

Newark customs officers "hazed" new hires on a "rape table" in a locked room

Three CBP officers are facing criminal charges stemming from 2016 and 2017 incidents in which two newly hired CBP employees were locked in a small room, thrown on a table referred to as a "rape table" and then forced to endure a "simulated sex act" in which the senior officers ground their genitals against them. Read the rest

EFF and ACLU sue Trump administration over warrantless border device searches

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties just filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of 11 travellers whose devices were searched at the US border; they assert that warrantless device searches violate the constitutional restriction on searches without probable cause. Read the rest

The secret text of the GOP's border bill reveals plan to dramatically increase surveillance of Americans and visitors

Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX, @JohnCornyn, +1 202-224-2934] introduced the Building America's Trust Act as a "long-term border security and interior enforcement strategy" but refused to release the bill's text, which has now leaked. Read the rest

For sale: Single home spanning two countries with doorways to both

This apartment house spans Beebe Plain, Vermont in the United States and Stanstead, Quebec in Canada. The owners, who have dual citizenship, put the fixer-upper on the market for $109,000. There are entrances from both Canada and the United States. From the Associated Press:

Beebe Plain is a community in the Vermont town of Derby, which along with Stanstead, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of Montpelier, or 75 miles (120 kilometers) southeast of Montreal, have become the cliché of security changes on the U.S.-Canadian border brought on by the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Residential streets that used to be open were blocked by gates. The back doors of an apartment building straddling the border in Derby Line village have been locked shut. The street next to the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, deliberately built in both countries, is blocked by flower pots, although Canadians are still allowed to walk to the library's U.S. entrance without going through a border post....

Troy Rabideau, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection assistant port director for the area that includes Beebe Plain, said the agents know who live there, but keeping track can be a challenge.

"It's always a fine line," Rabideau said. "We do the best we can to keep an eye on it. We do what we have to do, security first, but we also want the support of the locals."

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1Password's new travel mode locks you out of your accounts while you're travelling and crossing borders

1Password has taken Maciej Cegłowski's demand for a "travel mode" for our technology to heart, introducing a new feature that locks you out of your own accounts when you're in situations where you might lose control of your devices or be compelled to log into your accounts without your consent.

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Trump administration wants to force visitors to US to reveal social media passwords and answer questions about political beliefs

The latest crayon-scrawled, unconstitutional, sure-to-be-challenged plan from the Trump White House for America's borders would require visitors to the US to reveal their social media passwords so CBP officers could read their private messages and look at their friends lists; they will also have to answer questions about their political beliefs -- the plan would cover visitors from all over, including countries in the US Visa Waiver program. Read the rest

Bipartisan bill would end warrantless border searches of US persons' data

Under the Protecting Data at the Border Act, devices "belonging to or in the possession of a United States person" (a citizen or Green Card holder) could no longer be searched at the border without a warrant. Agents would no longer be able to deny US persons entry or exit on the basis of a refusal to allow such a search (but they could seize the equipment). Read the rest

Racist border policies mean Toronto school board will no longer allow trips to Trump's USA

Toronto high-school students have been visiting the USA since their inception; I remember my own high-school trips to Buffalo's Albright Knox gallery warmly. But they are a relic of the past, because the Toronto District School Board will not risk harassment and worse of its students at the US border, where people born to Arab or Muslim families, or in majority-Muslim families, report widespread discrimination. Read the rest

CBP conducted more device searches at the border in Feb than in all of 2015

There's been precious little litgation about the Customs and Border Protection Agency's far-reaching policy of invasively searching devices at the US border, so it's a legal greyzone (but you do have some rights). Read the rest

EFF presents: a guide to protecting your data privacy when crossing the US border

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just updated its 2011 guide to Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border with an all new edition that covers the law, administrative rules, technological options and potential repercussions of crossing the US border while not undergoing the warrantless seizure and indefinite retention of all of your sensitive data -- in a guide that breaks out the different risks for US citizens, US permanent residents, and visitors to the USA. Read the rest

US border guards can't believe Nigerian man is a software engineer, google "questions to ask a software engineer" and give him a pop quiz

Celestine Omin is a Nigerian software engineer who works for Andela, a technology company backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded to give talented African coders an entree into the leading American tech firms; this week, he flew to the USA on a B1/B2 visa to meet with the company, but he found himself detained at the border. Read the rest

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