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Old 12-30-2009, 01:53 PM
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Default GPS to aid illegal border crossing

GPS to aid illegal border crossing

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By Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press
12/29/2009

SAN DIEGO - A group of California artists wants Mexicans and Central Americans to have more than just a few cans of tuna and a jug of water for their illegal trek through the harsh desert into the U.S.

Faculty at University of California, San Diego, are developing a GPS-enabled cell phone that tells dehydrated migrants where to find water and pipes in poetry from phone speakers, regaling them on their journey much like Emma Lazarus' words did a century ago to the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" on Ellis Island.

The Transborder Immigrant Tool is part technology endeavor, part art project. It introduces a high-tech twist to an old debate about how far activists can go to prevent migrants from dying on the border without breaking the law.

Immigration hardliners argue the activists are aiding illegal entry to the United States, a felony. Even migrants and their sympathizers question whether the device will make the treacherous journeys easier.

The designers - three visual artists on UCSD's faculty and an English professor at the University of Michigan - are undeterred as they criticize a U.S. policy they say embraces illegal immigrants for cheap labor while letting them die crossing the border.

"It's about giving water to somebody who's dying in the desert of dehydration," said Micha Cardenas, 32, a UCSD lecturer.

The effort is being done on the government's dime - an irony not lost on the designers whose salaries are paid by the state of California.

"There are many, many areas in which every American would say I don't like the way my tax dollars are being spent. Our answer to that is an in-your-face, so what?" says UCSD lecturer Brett Stalbaum, 33, a self-described news junkie who likens his role to chief technology officer.

Migrants walk for days in extreme heat, often eating tuna and crackers handed out at migrant shelters in Mexico. On Arizona ranches, they sip desperately from bins used by cows when their water runs out.

Hundreds have perished each year since heightened U.S. border enforcement pushed migrants out of large cities like San Diego and El Paso, Texas, in the 1990s. In response, migrant sympathizers put jugs or even barrels of water in the desert.

Bogus water locations?

The designers want to load inexpensive phones with GPS software that takes signals from satellite, independent of phone networks. Pressing a menu button displays water stations, with the distance to each. A user selects one and follows an arrow on the screen.

Some worry the software could lead migrants to damaged or abandoned water stations. Others wonder if it would lull them into a false sense of security or alert the Border Patrol and anti-illegal immigration activists to their whereabouts.

John Hunter, who has planted water barrels in California's scorching Imperial Valley since the late 1990s, says vandals destroy about 40 of his 150 stations every year.

"My concern is for people who arrive and find (the water) doesn't exist," he says.

Luis Jimenez, 47, was abandoned by smugglers and rescued by the Border Patrol twice this year - once after hitting his head on a rock and again after being bit by a snake. The Salvadoran migrant, who hopes to reach family in Los Angeles, would try the GPS device but can't afford one.

"If it tells you where to find water, it's good," he said at a Tijuana, Mexico, migrant shelter.

The phone designers say they are addressing the concerns, with an eye toward having the phone ready by midsummer.

"We don't want to create a safety tool that actually puts people in more danger," Stalbaum says.

`Very close to ... a crime'

The water locations beamed to the phones will be updated constantly to ensure accuracy. If the distance is too far, they won't appear on the screen.

The designers, who have raised $15,000 from a UCSD grant and an art festival award, hope to hand out phones for free in Mexico. The phones sell used for about $30 apiece. It costs nothing to add the GPS software.

Distribution would be tightly controlled by migrant shelters and advocacy groups to keep them away from anti-illegal immigration activists. The migrants would need passwords to use them.

U.S. authorities are unfazed. The Border Patrol has begun a $6.7-billion plan to drape the border with whiz-bang cameras, sensors and other technology.

"It's nothing new," said Border Patrol spokesman Mark Endicott. "We've seen handheld GPS devices used by smugglers. ... We're just going to have to learn to adapt to any challenges."

Critics of illegal immigration say the device is misguided, at best.

"If it's not a crime, it's very close to committing a crime," said Peter Nunez, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego. "Whether this constitutes aiding and abetting would depend on the details, but it certainly puts you in the discussion."

The software is being designed to direct migrants to water stations but Cardenas said they may add other "safety markers," like roads, towns and Border Patrol lookouts.

The group has published verses to be played on the phone's "Global Poetic System."

One poem reads, "May your tracks cut the shortest distance between points A and B."
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Last edited by ilbegone; 12-30-2009 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 01-02-2010, 12:13 PM
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An update:

Quote:
UC San Diego team developing device to help migrants safely, illegally cross border

January 1, 2010

By DAVID OLSON
The Press-Enterprise

Similar to how global positioning systems help drivers navigate Inland roads, a new device being developed at UC San Diego will assist migrants in illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ricardo Dominguez, an associate professor of visual arts, said the Transborder Immigrant Tool is primarily to help save lives by guiding migrants to water as they walk through harsh desert terrain. Hundreds die each year as they attempt to illegally cross the border. But he also sees it as a form of "electronic civil disobedience."

"The border itself is an illegal entity," said Dominguez, who views the ability to cross borders to seek a better life as a basic human right. "Civil disobedience is about breaking the law for a higher law."

Dominguez heads a team developing the devices at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology on the UC San Diego campus.


The device, which Dominguez hopes to distribute through churches and nonprofit groups on both sides of the border by next summer, will include poems welcoming migrants.

"It is in some ways a mobile Statue of Liberty," he said.

Raymond Herrera, founder and president of the anti-illegal-immigration We The People, California's Crusaders, called on federal authorities to prosecute Dominguez, whom he accused of using public university tax dollars to further illegal activity.

"They're giving the tools, the implements to break the law," said Herrera, of Victorville. "He's aiding and abetting a criminal act. This man's a criminal."

Kathleen Kim, an associate professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and an expert on immigration law, said federal law could be interpreted as barring the types of assistance that Dominguez is providing.

But, she said, "so much immigration enforcement is dependent on the policy objectives of the administration in charge." The Obama administration is unlikely to go after Dominguez, Kim predicted.

Dominguez said he realizes he risks prosecution but said that is part of civil disobedience.


Dominguez said he got the idea for the device while talking with a colleague at the institute who was developing a device for off-trail desert hiking.

Dominguez's system, which will be installed in hundreds of cell phones that Dominguez and colleagues are buying for as little as $6 on eBay, will be programmed to direct migrants to water jugs that nonprofit groups place in the desert for them. They also will point them toward Border Patrol stations in case they need life-saving assistance.

Dominguez said his devices cannot direct migrants toward any location, like standard positioning systems already sold at electronic stores. A true GPS points the user toward any specific longitude and latitude. Dominguez's device will connect once to a satellite. The locations of water jugs and other landmarks are then accessed via a Web-based system.

A voice-recognition system would allow migrants to say, for example, "I want water" in Spanish or one of several indigenous languages, and then be directed to water sources. It also will tell them where highways and other landmarks are, giving them the most direct route to get there.

The $9,000 to buy the phones and deliver them comes from the institute's research fund, Dominguez said.

Field testing in the desert will take place over the next few months, said Dominguez, who plans to share the technology with groups helping migrants cross the deadly waters separating North Africa and Spain. Then Dominguez and his colleagues will meet with sympathetic nonprofits and churches on both sides of the border to receive feedback. Those groups will be trained later on how to update water location and other information to the devices, he said.

Agent Louie Avila, a Border Patrol spokesman, said some migrants already use portable GPS devices, along with scanners that can pick up Border Patrol agents' conversations.

"This is nothing new," Avila said. He predicted the agency would obtain one of the devices to find out what paths migrants might be taking.


'POSITIVE THING'

Immigrant rights advocates praised Dominguez.

"Anything that can help bring down the number of deaths at the border is a positive thing," said Jennaya Dunlap, of Immigration Raids Rapid Response Network, which monitors immigration enforcement actions in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. "So many people die there because of lack of water, heat, or because they get lost."

An October report by the American Civil Liberties Union that analyzed U.S. and Mexican government data said between 3,861 and 5,607 migrants have died in the desert since 1994, when the federal government ramped up enforcement in more populated areas and pushed many migrants to cross the border in remote, often-treacherous regions.

Enrique Morones, founder of San Diego-based Border Angels, which places water and food in the desert for migrants and hands out clothing, said he regularly warns people of the dangers of crossing through remote areas and doesn't encourage it.

But he said many migrants, desperate to lift their families out of poverty or reunite with loved ones in the United States, cross anyway. The new device won't in itself persuade people to cross -- the trek will remain risky -- but it will save lives of some of those who already made the choice, he said.

Hector Rivera, a recent UC Riverside graduate who volunteers for Border Angels, said even those fighting most strongly against illegal immigration should support the distribution of the new device.

"To me, this is about human life," he said. "These are human beings and we need to do whatever is possible to allow them to live."

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Old 01-02-2010, 12:17 PM
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We need to hound our representatives to see to it that Ricardo Dominguez and his cohorts are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and that both Federal and State funding is withheld from UC San Diego
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"You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra

Old journeyman commenting on young apprentices - "Think about it, these are their old days"

SOMETIMES IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

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Old 01-02-2010, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilbegone View Post
We need to hound our representatives to see to it that Ricardo Dominguez and his cohorts are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and that both Federal and State funding is withheld from UC San Diego
This has so many people angry. Well like I've said before, it all starts in our schools. That's where the indoctrination begins. These professors surround themselves with all the other academics that think exactly the way they do, and thus believe the rest of the country agrees with them. They have been convinced they are on a higher calling and that we just haven't been as 'educated' and aren't as knowledgeable as they are. So they can do what ever they want, because we're just 'stupid' and uneducated.

It is through our schools that they are doing much if not most of the damage to our society. The schools are funded by big business and thus the control of society at large.
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Old 01-02-2010, 12:35 PM
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An additional strategy might be to insure that our border patrol can conduct surveillance on such cell phones which would allow border patrol to identify, locate and arrest illegals trying to cross with such devices.
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:51 PM
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An additional strategy might be to insure that our border patrol can conduct surveillance on such cell phones which would allow border patrol to identify, locate and arrest illegals trying to cross with such devices.
I don't really think it works that way. The border patrol could be prosecuted for interfering with their right to cross. Remember Ramos and Compean?
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:08 AM
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""Anything that can help bring down the number of deaths at the border is a positive thing," said Jennaya Dunlap"

Then how about they stay home and stop sneaking in here? That would really bring down the desert death rate.
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Old 01-06-2010, 05:49 PM
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An opinion by Navarette concerning the issue. The column was headlined in the Daily News as:

Phone with GPS is wrong way to dial up disobedience

Quote:
Navarrette: Illegal border crossings aided by cell phone device

By Ruben Navarrette

01/06/2010

Want to cross into the United States illegally while keeping track of the location of the nearest water station and the distance to your final destination?

There's an app for that.

Several readers have asked what I think of a new cell phone dubbed by its inventor as a "trans-border immigrant tool."

I have mixed feelings. I would generally approve of instruments that help people survive dangerous situations. But when those people are illegal immigrants who brought their plight upon themselves by opting to enter the United States through a back door, I become less sympathetic. In fact, I become suspicious and I begin to question whether the makers of the gadget retrofitted with GPS technology are encouraging unlawful activity.

The device is the brainchild of Ricardo Dominguez, a professor of new media at the University of California at San Diego, who developed the idea along with fellow researchers at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. Dominguez calls himself an "artivist" - part artist, part activist - and he describes his invention as a humanitarian tool, not a political one. He says that it is meant to save lives and not to promote illegal crossings.

This argument would be more convincing if the phones weren't encrypted to avoid electronic detection by the Border Patrol.

Apparently, the phones are also intended to enrich the soul. In addition to directions and distance traveled, Dominguez has said, the device - which costs about $30 to produce - will also be loaded with haiku-like poems with a welcoming theme.

Dominguez, who plans to distribute the phones to would-be border crossers through church groups and immigrant-advocacy organizations, insists he's doing nothing wrong. But he has also described himself as engaged in "civil disobedience" and asserted the ability of immigrants to move across borders safely as a "trans-global right."

Sorry, professor, you lost me.

First, if individuals do have such a right, then why does it supersede the right of sovereign nations to control their borders? On its southern border, Mexico asserts its right to keep out Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans and anyone else from throughout Latin America. Wouldn't people in Central and South America have the same "trans-global right" to cross into Mexico that Mexicans assert with regard to the United States? If Dominguez really believes in a right to cross borders, maybe he should ship some of his GPS devices all the way to Guatemala so people there can use them to sneak into Mexico?

Besides, the whole principle of civil disobedience is about breaking an unjust law and accepting the consequences. Henry David Thoreau went to jail for not paying the Massachusetts poll tax to protest the Mexican-American War.

Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail in Birmingham to protest Jim Crow. If Dominguez really believes he's following in that esteemed tradition, then he's acknowledging that he's breaking the law. And this means he's acknowledging that he's helping people enter the United States illegally. That's a crime.


While some people are complaining - loudly - that state tax dollars might have gone to fund this research, this element of the story doesn't bother me. University professors spend tax money on all kinds of controversial research, some to advance causes on the right and others to push agendas on the left. Why single out this instance? Moreover, Dominguez claims he has raised more than $15,000 in grant money.

What really bothers me is that Dominguez has, in the eternal drama playing out on the U.S.-Mexico border, gone from observer to enabler.

It's one thing to lament illegal immigration into the United States and try to react to it in a firm, honest and compassionate manner while battling hatred, racism and ignorance.

It's another to encourage more of it.

And why? Out of a sense of ethnic solidarity, an imaginary bond between a Latino academic and Latino immigrants? Because of a desire to grow, even by illegitimate means, the size of the Latino community in the hopes of increasing the political and economic power of the whole?

Latinos in the United States have it tough enough already. People are always assuming that when it comes to the immigration issue, our loyalties lie on the other side of the border. I usually dismiss those fears as flashes of paranoia. But this gadget says that those concerns aren't totally unfounded.

How unfortunate that, in trying to help illegal immigrants navigate their way across the U.S.-Mexico border, well-intentioned humanitarians could lose their own bearings.
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RAP IS TO MUSIC WHAT ETCH-A-SKETCH IS TO ART

Don't drink and post.

"A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat." - Old New York Yiddish Saying

"You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra

Old journeyman commenting on young apprentices - "Think about it, these are their old days"

SOMETIMES IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.

Never, ever, wear a bright colored shirt to a stand up comedy show.


Last edited by ilbegone; 01-06-2010 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 06:46 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Well that was a surprising article from Navarrette. Very honest.
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:57 PM
Twoller Twoller is offline
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Here's the guy's license:

Quote:
....

It's one thing to lament illegal immigration into the United States and try to react to it in a firm, honest and compassionate manner while battling hatred, racism and ignorance

....
The people that have the monopoly on hatred, racism and ignorance are the illegal immigrants themselves, not people who are struggling against them. Illegal immigrants deserve to be hated and they are more racist then the shrill minority of racists who claim to oppose illegal immigration. Notice that white supremicists don't oppose illegal immigration from places they consider white populations. And who opposes illegal immigration except from direct experience? There is no ignorance there.

This guy is not honest. He is very slippery and not to be trusted with civil speech.
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