Crossing the Border? There's an App for That

Ricardo Dominguez has made a career of pissing off the authorities. Part performance art, part poetry, part activism, his Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) has managed to disrupt the online activities of government organizations from the White House to the Mexican Embassy, in effect, rendering their websites inaccessible.

And his latest work is likely to make even more people mad as hell, even though it is essentially providing a service that could save many thousands of lives a year. So what is he up to that is causing such a controversy? Well, the technologically savvy Dominguez recently released an application to help illegal immigrants navigate the incredibly dangerous terrain of the US/Mexican border.

It's called the Transborder Immigrant Tool and it's main goals are to assist immigrants in finding safe routes into the United States from Mexico and vice-versa. "It’s a safety tool," Dominguez tells Vice magazine. "It’s not trying to resolve the political anxieties of these communities or resolve the inadequacies of a fictional border for a so-called free-trade community. Again, our position is that it’s not a political resolution; it’s a safety tool."

Dominguez says that they created the application specifically to be compatible with the the Motorola i455 cell phone, which at under $30, clocks in as one of the cheapest cell phones available on the market today. "We were able to crack it and create a simple compass-like 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," says Dominguez.

Tell us: What do you think about the Transborder Immigrant Tool? A humanitarian technological advancement or a criminal application?