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UCSD Artists Develop Tool To Guide Illegal Border Crossers To Water

Audio

Aired 1/11/10

Researchers at UCSD are developing a tool that can be installed in cell phones to help guide illegal immigrants to water and safety while crossing the border from Mexico to the United States. We discuss the tool and how it might impact those trying to cross the border and those trying to stop them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. There's no denying that illegally crossing into the United States from Mexico has gotten deadlier in recent years. U.S. border security policies have changed the usual urban routes for migrants into harsh desert treks. Many immigrants have gotten stranded without water and died from thirst and exposure. A group of art and technology activists have decided to do something about that. They're developing what they call the Transborder Immigrant Tool, a GPS cell phone app to help illegal border crossers travel safely into the U.S. As you might imagine, it's caused a bit of a stir. Joining us to talk about what some call an act of electronic civil disobedience and some call breaking federal law are my guests. Ricardo Dominguez, associate professor of the Visual Arts Department, UCSD. And, Ricardo, welcome.

RICARDO DOMINGUEZ (Associate Professor, Visual Arts Department, University of California San Diego): Thank you very much for inviting us.

CAVANAUGH: Brett Stalbaum is a UC San Diego lecturer. And, Brett, welcome.

BRETT STALBAUM (Lecturer, University of California San Diego): Thank you. Really glad to be here.

CAVANAUGH: John Hunter is founder of Water Station, a humanitarian group that puts water barrels in the California desert for illegal border crossers. John, welcome to These Days.

JOHN HUNTER (Founder, Water Station, Inc.): Thanks a lot.

CAVANAUGH: And we are in the process of getting on the line Daryl Reed, who is a supervisory Border Patrol agent, and we’ll tell you when he joins our conversation. Let me start with you, Ricardo, and also ask you what does the Transborder Immigrant Tool do? I mean, I gave a sort of thumbnail kind of a sketch of it but what is it and what does it do?

DOMINGUEZ: Well, the project was to seek out a useful, ubiquitous technology, that is a cell phone that is inexpensive, to create a simple GPS system, right, that would guide an individual crossing the border to water or allowing them to call 911 if they have access to connectivity as the phone, and basically just giving them a few more beats of being able to survive. So what we’ve done is taken an iMotorola-455, one of the I series, redesigned the interface into a compass where one can say ‘agua’ and the system will respond. It will find whatever the closest located water cache might be and point them in that direction. And the other element is vibratory in case you can’t read the compass, in which it would vibrate heavily in the direction of the water or it would not. The other element is that it offers other forms of sustenance. Since we are artists, we are trying to shift it just away from GPS towards a geo-poetic system. So like the Statue of Liberty that Emma Lazareth (sic) offered to us a poem about welcoming the poor, we have a poet, Dr. Amy Sara Carroll, who’s working with us to write haikus of welcoming as well because the arc of the work is not only technological efficiency but poetic sustenance, that is that these are not illegal individuals but individuals with inalienable rights and we prefer to use the term undocumented. And so part of the geo-poetic system is to reshift the language at play so it works on three levels: safety, poetry, and trying to reshift the nature of how we define the crosser.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Brett, would somebody be able to download this GPS system into an existing cell phone? Would that be possible?

STALBAUM: We view it as having two different and very distinct user groups. One would be NGOs, nongovernmental organizations who work with this population to, you know, either convince them not to cross, convey the dangers of crossing, and to prepare them with information and knowledge that they need during crossing. So that’s really the first user group. These are groups that we imagine would be—and that we’re in contact with—distributing the tool, preparing the tool, adding the software to the phone, and, most importantly, providing, you know, education in how to use it as an emergency safety tool. The second group, of course, are the users. So we really imagine a system where it’s going to be deployed for people versus being something that, you know, in sort of – in the way that we might think of this technology as sort of middle class, upper class folks, something that we would manipulate ourselves. Right?

CAVANAUGH: Right.

STALBAUM: So it needs to be – it needs to address the needs of a particular population and the groups of people that serve these populations. As I often say, it’s easy to write software, it’s hard to write software that meets the needs of a particular user group. So we’re really targeting the organizations that would be distributing this tool and who are consulting with people.

CAVANAUGH: I see. So they would be distributing the tool. Who, Ricardo, is paying for this?

DOMINGUEZ: Who’s paying for it. Well, the funding – the first level of funding came from the Transcommunity Award that we received in 2007 in Mexico and was given to us by the U.S. Embassy. The second two awards were for the Transborder Intervention, that was given by the Center for Humanities at UCSD. And the other award came from Calit2, an edge technology institute at UCSD. I am a principle investigator and run a lab there. So those have been the three major spaces of funding. It’s been about $15,000 altogether since 2007. But, again, my research is looking at inexpensive, ubiquitous technology. It’s not that I need a million dollars from the National Science Foundation. So that is, right now, the matrix of funding that we have.

CAVANAUGH: And, Ricardo and Brett, I wonder how you would define – how would you define this as an arts project?

STALBAUM: Well, there’s a long history actually in the 20th century of artists who are working with communities to, you know, surpass the object in some ways and produce activities as performances that enhance those communities. So we view ourselves working in a tradition of community-based art practices and public culture.

CAVANAUGH: And I want to, if I may – Oh, would you want to comment on that, Ricardo? I’m sorry.

DOMINGUEZ: Well, also, I mean, one of the things is that Brett has been a new media artist working in locative media, which is a genre of new media art. And I think what’s interesting about locative media is not only the interest in GPS as a narrative tool, as a way to understand space and movement, but what Brett has done is, again, moved it away from the urban-located new media condition to the non-urban. And that’s what really came about through our discussion, was how he was using locative media art in a non-urban space and thus led us to the Transborder Immigrant Tool.

CAVANAUGH: I want to welcome our guest Daryl Reed, who is supervisory Border Patrol Agent. He is on the line right now with us. Agent Reed, welcome.

DARYL REED (Supervisory Border Patrol Agent, U.S. Customs and Border Protection): Good morning.

CAVANAUGH: I also want to reintroduce my guests. Ricardo Dominguez and Brett Stalbaum. Associate professor Ricardo is a visual arts (sic) at UCSD and Brett is a UC San Diego lecturer. And John Hunter is also with us. He’s the founder of Water Station, a humanitarian group that puts water barrels in the California deserts for people who are crossing the desert. We invite our listeners to join the conversation. Do you think a cell phone device that makes it safer to cross the border is a good idea? Is it an acceptable way to highlight the issue of the dangers facing people who cross the border illegally? Give us a call with your questions and comments. The number here is 1-888-895-5727, 1-888-895-KPBS. Agent Reed, I’d like your – you to give us your reaction to the Transborder Immigrant Tool that we’ve been talking about.

REED: There’s not the – an issue with the United States Border Patrol about this GPS system. GPS systems have existed for years and it’s not something we’re overly concerned about. And the only question I have about this, and I saw this in an AP story that came out on January fourth, you know, it was mentioned that this system would include Border Patrol lookouts and I’m not sure why that would be necessary for the system. And, you know, but we’re for anything that would save lives. You know, that’s the reason why we create our own Search, Trauma and Rescue team but just questionable why that’s in there.

CAVANAUGH: Is it in there, gentlemen? Ricardo, Brett?

STALBAUM: Well, I think that was in the AP interview, an expression of our hope that we might be able to work with also the Border Patrol and, you know, facilitate people finding safety locations provided by the Border Patrol. We recognize the Border Patrol as probably the most important, you know, public safety organization in this discussion. They save a lot of people and do really, really good work in that regard, so if we can be in a position to, you know, assist people who want to find help, find help through any means possible, be it Border Patrol, Water Stations, Inc., other safety resources that people might be able to find in the desert, then that’s something that we’re interested in doing.

CAVANAUGH: Agent Reed, I wonder, in your opinion, the Border Patrol’s opinion, are these researchers within their legal rights to distribute this tool?

REED: That’s – Well, it’s not an issue that – for us to tackle. That’s something that would go to the U.S. Attorney and, you know, how they view it. That’s, you know, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s not something that – I want to ensure the general public that it’s not nothing new to us. You know, we have a variety of systems that we use to do our job and complete our mission and that we don’t see this as any kind of a threat or any kind of a problem with us doing – completing our mission.

CAVANAUGH: John Hunter, you work out in the field, for years providing water and sustenance for people who are crossing into the United States. And I wonder how you think people who are attempting, planning to attempt to cross into the United States illegally will respond to this phone?

HUNTER: That’s a good question. I can’t put myself in their shoes. I – We tend to focus on people that have already crossed the border. In other words, you know, I try to draw a line in the sand as far as Water Stations’ jurisdiction goes and since we’re Americans, we want to save American lives, is number one. And when I say American lives, anyone that’s within our domain. That includes Eskimos, Canadians, Mexicans, and Guatemalans. As long as they cross the border, we shouldn’t be letting them die here, either dying in the desert or drowning in the All American Canal. So I can’t – but I can’t project how they’re going to react south of the border or north of the border, etcetera, but I do think that – I talked to Ricardo and Brett today and I understand more fully now and I’d say offhand that we support the idea of some – anything that enables these people to survive once they get here. And that doesn’t mean that they’re going to find where the storage houses are where they hide from the Border Patrol. I’m talking about true survival and that’s usually water, water and shade. So if we can show them where the water and the shade is and maybe a hospital and I – if I read this correctly, the reason they wanted to put the Border Patrol locations in is because the Border Patrol, in many cases, makes the saves. So I hope I interpret that correctly, Brett.

STALBAUM: Yes.

HUNTER: In other words, they’re not putting the Border Patrol locations in to evade them. They’re trying to put them in so you can go to them. And we’ve had people in our areas just on the verge of death where we’ve took care of them and said you’ve got two choices here, because we can’t transport you illegally north but we can take you to the hospital. We saved this one guy a couple of years ago. And we can take you to the hospital and after about a few hours of recovery – or we can call the Border Patrol and they can – or, they can – and they can take you back to Mexico or we can leave you here. And so, you know, you’ve got your pick, hospital or Border Patrol or leave them there. No one wants to stay there. Ultimately, the guy wanted to go to the Border Patrol so we called them in with a sat phone. We were in a remote area so I had to use a satellite phone. So I don’t – I can’t speak for the guys thinking of crossing but I do think it’s our duty. This is a bandaid fix, of course, to a real immigration issue. Putting the water out there is a bandaid fix. We’ve always acknowledged that but it’s the best we can do short of a real immigration policy.

CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, John, how dangerous is it for migrants to cross into the United States now?

HUNTER: Well, it’s totally deadly in some areas at certain times of the year. Starting in about March, they start to die in large numbers, particularly in the Tucson sector. And Tucson, strangely enough, has about 100 water stations put out by Humane Borders. They’re very well maintained, and they still lose over 100 people. They lose at least 50 every year on the Tohono O'odham Reservation, which is common territory with the Mexican northern border. They – and there’s no water stations allowed in there for some ironic reason. The Native Americans don’t want to put water stations there. There are two disagree with that…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah…

HUNTER: …but it’s not allowed.

CAVANAUGH: …yeah, I know that.

HUNTER: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: And I’m wondering, you know, Ricardo, including the Border Patrol stations in the GPS system is, you say, not to evade but to help but obviously it can also be used to evade the Border Patrol stations.

DOMINGUEZ: Well, I suppose that any tool can be used for evasion. And, again, it’s a question of orientation of the quality of the way the code is being established and the interface is being established. We’ve pointed out that people can go into the Best Buy in Mexico and buy a high end machine that will give you location, spaces, all of that. But the tool right now is we’re developing one of effective safety net, right. So it’s not a process of evading because if you are in danger and you evade a space, as John pointed out, then the likely outcome is that you will die. So it’s – For me, I call it a different ontological shift, right, the question of life. A GPS that you buy at Best Buy is going to give you where Route 66 is or whatever kind of location in a very specific way. What our information frame is, is only what is going to save you and that’s the frame that it’s being developed. If you want to evade, there are probably much better systems out there and much more clear information about evasion than this tool will offer.

STALBAUM: Well, and…

CAVANAUGH: Yes, go ahead. Sorry.

STALBAUM: There certainly are – the platform itself, these really inexpensive used mobile phones that range from $15.00 to $30.00, you know, crossing the sort of price barrier, we hope that that makes them able to be redeployed as effective tools really aren’t useful for evading. The battery life is really short on these devices, especially in the environment in which they’re intended to be deployed so – and using the GPS full time, by the way, so we – it really is intended to be more of a, I guess, a parachute cord, you know, something that you could, when you decide that you’re in trouble, take out of your pocket and use over the short term to find some nearby safety resource. As Ricardo points out, you know, over the – you know, GPS devices that are available at WalMart and Best Buy are actually designed for overland navigation, outdoor backpacking GPS devices. So, you know, I guess if people are really concerned with either the national security or the ramifications of this tool, they might, you know, be better served by, you know, asking WalMart to quit selling Garmin GPS devices. Correct?

CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. We’re talking about the Transborder Immigrant Tool. It’s a GPS cell phone app to help people cross the border safely into the United States. Again, that number is 1-888-895-KPBS. And let’s go to Martin. He’s calling from El Cajon. Good morning, Martin, and welcome to These Days.

MARTIN (Caller, El Cajon): Thank you. Glad to be here. I’ve only got about a couple of comments to make and I’ll take my, you know, reply off the air. One, these people are not Americans, as the individual said, so, you know, and – because they’re not – they are illegal and not entitled to anything that this country has to offer. Two, these are federal laws being broken and should be treated as such for the people who’s actually breaking these laws. Three, it encourages the illegal drug trade. And also, four, it encourages these criminals, enables them to cross back and forth, thereby evading the Border Patrol and the legal means to get into this country. Anyone that needs to come into this country can apply legally and should do so. If we want to help these people that’s down in Mexico or in other countries and stuff to help get into the United States, let’s take the aid that they want to offer to that country and set up programs in their country to help them apply for legal citizenship in the United States.

CAVANAUGH: Well, Martin, thank you for your comments. I think we’re going to address basically everything that you said during the rest of our conversation but right before we go into a break, I wonder, Ricardo and Brett, have you heard anything about the actual legality of this plan? Because I have read that there’s a question about whether or not this is actually breaking federal law.

DOMINGUEZ: Well, the constitutional statement or constitutional lawyer that has kind of looked into this often uses the ‘almost’ and it’s this ‘almost’ which I think shifts the question of legality, right. And this is why it brings us back to the question of civil disobedience if it is a question of legality. So, for us, the tradition of civil disobedience means that you break one law for a higher law. And in this particular gesture that we have been developing, we have organized the question of electronic civil disobedience since the eighties and nineties. So first I would say, well, what is this ‘almost?’ How does that ‘almost’ function? Almost breaking, that would be an interesting question. And then the other is if that ‘almost is sutured into this is illegal, then I would say that the gesture is one of civil disobedience, functioning as civil disobedience so that if a law is being broken, then the authorities would have to treat it as an act of 24-hour imprisonment done in a transparent way and you would then go continued with one’s kind of civil discourse and civil gesture. So I think it’s a two-prong trajectory. Is it illegal or almost illegal? And if it is illegal, which comes through the process, then it would fall into the category of civil disobedience.

CAVANAUGH: We have to take a short break. When we return, we’ll continue our discussion about the Transborder Immigrant Tool and take your calls. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. We’re talking about the development of the Transborder Immigrant Tool. It’s a GPS cell phone app to help illegal border crossers travel safely into the U.S. My guests are Ricardo Dominguez and Brett Stalbaum, two people who are developing and distributing this phone when it’s ready for distribution. Daryl Reed, a supervisory Border Patrol agent, and John Hunter is the founder of the Water Station, a humanitarian group that puts out water barrels in the California desert. And we are taking your phone calls at 1-888-895-5727. Agent Reed, I want to talk to you a minute, if I can.

REED: Yeah.

CAVANAUGH: One of our callers wanted to know will this GPS system in the phone actually lead the Border Patrol to immigrants?

REED: In our operational profile, I really can’t discuss how we do, what we do, but it’s not something that, you know, again, that we’re really overly concerned about. But my concern and I’d like to question the professors…

CAVANAUGH: Sure.

REED: …in the position that they’re in, you know, as being physicians, are they not concerned about, you know, the fact that they’re encouraging someone to break the law? And maybe someone who may not be considering crossing in this dangerous territory that they’re trying to help, that they’re actually encouraging them to give it a try because the system’s there.

STALBAUM: Well…

CAVANAUGH: Yeah, go ahead, Brett.

STALBAUM: …this is why, and it’s a really good question. This is why we are interested in working with NGOs who consult with people on this. And generally I don’t think that it’s going to encourage anybody any more than they are already encouraged to cross.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, so that’s basically – that’s your answer in a nutshell.

STALBAUM: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: That it’s not going to encourage people.

STALBAUM: I don’t think it will. And if it does, it’s really, you know, important to us that, you know, generally, even just for the effective use of the tool, that NGOs in an education kind of program in terms of how to use the tool safely that it sort of be a holistic approach when people are advised about how to do this. So…

CAVANAUGH: And Agent Reed seemed a little hesitant to answer but doesn’t having a GPS system make it somewhat likely that the – that a band of undocumented immigrants crossing the desert might actually be able to be located by the Border Patrol?

STALBAUM: Well, I don’t – I’m not an expert in the Border Patrol’s procedures but I can assume that they’re aware of the location of water safety sites and that they would sometimes tactically use those. But I don’t know this. I mean, I can only assume.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. Let’s take a call. Dave is calling in Imperial Beach. Good morning, Dave, and welcome to These Days.

DAVE (Caller, Imperial Beach): Hi. Thank you, and thank you for taking my call. And it’s a very interesting topic, and I just had a comment and a question. You know, as far as the whole high tech stuff with the Border Patrol and what they’re using, I just saw a show on 60 Minutes last night and it looks like a giant boondoggle going on with them. It’s not the Border Patrol’s fault but as far as, you know, tracing a GPS signal and – They can barely keep track of what they got going on for 28 miles. It doesn’t look good for them with the high tech stuff.

CAVANAUGH: Right.

DAVE: And I had a question with the professors here. I don’t know who actually wrote the app or designed it but, you know, using this quote, unquote, tool under the guise of art – I’m a musician, I know what art is. And, you know, this isn’t art, this is like pushing the boundaries. And I know artists get a bad rap a lot of times but they can’t even call it what it really is. Transborder Immigrant Tool? It’s a way to beat the system of the United States of America, sneak in here, and, you know, maybe locate some water. And I’ll tell you what, it’s not the desert that’s killing these poor, you know, desperate people, it’s the coyotes that are bringing them across. And all this application’s going to do is assist the coyotes. Don’t they get it? And as far as the high tech end of it, why can’t they, you know, maybe they can’t do this, but how about a reverse or a covert type of a virus that will then identify who is using this quote, unquote, tool or this art program they invented so we can get these coyotes. That’s my comment. Please address it.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Dave, for that. And, Ricardo, Dave has a real problem with you calling this an arts project.

DOMINGUEZ: Well, I think, again, it depends on the histories of definition that are enabled in the project. We come from a tradition of conceptual art which goes back through most of the 20th century. And also inherent in conceptual art is the notion of social sculpture so that the nature of art is one that is not bound to, say, classical definitions, a painting on a wall, a guitar being played, or a piece of wood being made into a sculpture. We go back to traditions of, you know, taking a urinal and putting it in a museum, all right. We go back to a tradition wherein the gestures within a society itself are also viewed as artistic practice. And, certainly, the Visual Arts Department at UCSD, with Alan Capro and many others, are looking at the quality of public culture as a space for art to play itself out that is not necessarily defined and bound by what we would call a classical tradition of art.

CAVANAUGH: And if I could have Ricardo and Brett respond to a few of the overall criticisms that have been made by some editorial writers and some of our callers that this tool will help coyotes and drug smugglers more than immigrants trying to survive.

STALBAUM: Well, and the caller also raised an important question about the design of the software that…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

STALBAUM: …goes to this issue that I’d like to address briefly, is that the software’s really not designed to be a long distance overland navigation system. In fact, it’s not particularly useful for that. Like I said earlier, it’s really designed so that you can pull this out of your pocket and find a nearby safety site, not direct yourself toward distant sites or, you know, maintain a larger or much larger scale sort of orientation to where you are located in the landscape. So even the idea that, you know – It’s hard to tease the language apart but the idea that we’re – we’ve created an application that helps people illegally immigrate into the United States safely is a little bit incorrect. We’re really creating an application that helps people, for whatever reason, who are in the desert and in particular deserts where there are these safety resources, to find those safety resources only.

CAVANAUGH: And the larger question of if, indeed, this is social commentary and it is the province of an artist, why don’t art activists agitate from Mexico to improve education and job opportunities so that Mexicans don’t have to immigrate in the first place?

DOMINGUEZ: Well, there is a long history of art…

STALBAUM: Umm-hmm.

DOMINGUEZ: …gestures by Mexican artists dealing exactly with those…

STALBAUM: Umm-hmm.

DOMINGUEZ: …sorts of issues, right. But the problems of the Mexican economy, the Mexican politics, go to a deep history of relations between the U.S. and Mexico and Latin America as a whole. I always start with my students the Monroe Doctrine which dictated that everything in Latin America or south of the border belongs to the property – the sole property of the United States as its main, ideological policy. We’ve had a long history of neoliberalism now, which has expanded free trade and has destabilized a lot of economies. For instance, right now in Mexico, everything is being privatized that was nationalized, right, because of the free trade, neoliberal policies. And then you have neoconservative policies which is enacting the border as a war zone, right. Since Operation Gatekeeper in 1994, it’s become a war. So, yes, there are artists in Mexico and here in the United States who are looking to develop new perspectives on what is available for society to grow and create. But you have these massive economic blocks, massive zones of war that are being established that destabilize the ability of communities to create a sustainable culture. So it’s a very complex issue and, certainly, our work, traditionally in the nineties, was in support of the Zapatistas, say, in Chiapas, Mexico, who were communities of indigenous seeking rights within Mexico because they had been disestablished by neoliberal agendas, that is your lands are ours now for commerce and no longer yours. So there are communities that are seeking sustainability and certainly we support that. The undocumented worker then in this complex battle zone easily becomes a scapegoat for kind of the internal recession depressions of our own policies, long term policies in Latin America. So I think we often place the coyote, the narco, the terrorist, as kind of penultimate figures of what usually – and I think John was saying 80% are usually just folks trying to survive.

CAVANAUGH: And let me ask you, John, because you have a very nuanced view of this whole concept because you want to make sure that people in this country do not suffer and die on their trek from Mexico but at the same time you are against illegally entering this country.

HUNTER: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: And I’m wondering, in talking with the two professors here you say you now support this. What, however, if it does encourage people to make the cross?

HUNTER: Yeah, like I said, I can barely spell nuanced but I know what you’re talking about. Like I said, we believe in the line in the sand. Once people get across the border, assuming they’re not narcos or MS-13 or crazed jihadists, we want to save their lives whoever they are, Eskimos or penguins or – as long as they have human DNA, of course, we want to save them. And so I haven’t spoken to the board at Water Station but I would say we would – we will work with these guys to the extent that it’s legal in the U.S. to work with them because simple goal, save them. Okay, and I’m – as you know, I’m a right wing guy so I work on weapons periodically and I’ve been to Iraq a couple of times, so I have no problem with the right wing agenda in most cases. But I think part of that, you have to have a subset of your head that also has the element of mercy which is, sure, you want to solve a lot of problems by shooting people, a natural right wing tendency. But you also want to, okay, if they’re dying, bleeding to death, or they’re dying of thirst, there’s a element of mercy which you have to show as well. And this appears, from what I can see today, to have that element.

REED: Maureen?

CAVANAUGH: Let me try to take – I’m sorry. Go ahead, Agent. Agent Reed.

REED: Yeah. I just want to point out that, you know, this technology it seems to be going against what they’re saying here, is this is going to get – drive a lot of these people to try to cross the desert instead of try to cross in other areas that are more populated or are – that were easily found. But, you know, they may change their mind about crossing there and try to go that route because they’ve got this safety tool to get them to a water station.

CAVANAUGH: Agent Reed, do you see this tool impacting your ability to do your job?

REED: No. No, we – Like I said before, GPS systems have been around for a long time and like one of the callers mentioned before about, yes, there is a new technology that we’re trying to bring onboard but that doesn’t – didn’t – you know, we still have the methods in place that we have had in the past and we’re always continuously trying to evolve to stay a step ahead of these smugglers. But this is something that’s, you know, this was several generations back and it’s not going to impact our job whatsoever.

CAVANAUGH: We have to wrap it up because we’re out of time but one of our callers wants to know how he can get involved. Is there any way, Brett, that he can get involved in this project?

STALBAUM: Well, I – We – I think one of the important things that is on our agenda is for us to get involved in the maintenance of the water stations. We’re directly inspired by Water Stations, Inc. and other groups that maintain the water stations out there. This project kind of comes from that area, so we want to become involved, too. I think the best thing to do would be to contact Water Stations, Inc. So…

CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you all. Richard (sic) Dominguez, Brett Stalbaum, Daryl Reed and John Hunter, thank you for talking with us today about this subject. We had so many people wanting to get involved with the conversation, please go online, KPBS.org/TheseDays, and post your comments. Stay with us for hour two of These Days here on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'edszhi'

edszhi | January 11, 2010 at 10:58 a.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

I wonder what calculations these individuals have made to determine how many more people will put their lives at risk for illegally crossing the border because of this program?

Second comment: I agree with your earlier caller that the money spent to organize, maintain and promote this program to promote illegal entry into the U.S. would be better spent at home in Mexico. It was intersting that the first organization to support funding of this program was from Mexico.

Third comment: I don't believe that "civil disobedience" as described in this effort is utilizing resources in the U.S. There are 400,000 people dying every year because of smoking related diseases. Let's find "art" solutions that help to save lives.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | January 11, 2010 at 12:11 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

While I feel no particular malice to our neighbors to the south, we simply cannot be the solution to their problems. Our world is facing some very sobering issues in relation to our environment and the strain a growing population places on it. Resources and infrastructure must be available to support a popuation, no matter where that population is. You can't create more resources than are actually available, and building the infrastruture to support a population requires time and TAX dollars. The birth rates of immigrants are known to be much higher than other groups, school drop out rates are higher, and few go on to college and actually graduate when they do go. What will our country look like by 2050 when we have a larger number of uneducated and low skilled workers dominating the scene? I know it's cause for being called a racist by some, but to me, that's just intellectual dishonesty to ignore those aspects of the equation. People who think they are being helpful are actually aiding in the decline of our nation and the planet. And that includes anyone who is hiring or paying someone to do work when they know in fact that this person is here illegally. It's human to feel compassion for the plight of others, but you can find yourself throwing the rule of law and rational reasoning out of the window at your own peril for it sometimes.

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Avatar for user 'WaterStationPrez'

WaterStationPrez | January 11, 2010 at 3:22 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

To the person who called about volunteering with Water Station: You may email me at ben.cassel@yahoo.com and I will send you some information and add you to the Water Station mailing list.

Ben

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Avatar for user 'motoroto'

motoroto | January 12, 2010 at 9:25 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

I think we can have an honest debate about what's going on here and what's at stake. I do appreciate the forum here where the commentors are civilized and can discuss issues without resorting to hateful comments, demagoguery and general ugly speech and I thank randolphslinky for that. Much different from the UT comments section where its an all out fist fight and the real racists are winning.

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Avatar for user 'Warmthoughtsofyou04'

Warmthoughtsofyou04 | January 16, 2010 at 10:15 a.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

This really upsets me. It's because of "efforts" like this that I'm probably not going to get the Medi-Cal insurance that I need. I've got a lot of health issues and I'm on disability. I've lived in San Diego, CALIFORNIA my entire life. These people come here getting free healthcare from Medicare and Medi-cal. There are people who have lived in America their whole lives, worked their you-know-whats off to earn these privileges, and someone who jumps the border and doesn't speak English gets the benefits over someone who's 65, or disabled, or broke. It's absolute CRAP.

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