Critics Blast Transborder Immigrant Tool as ‘Irresponsible’ Use of Technology

Joshua Rhett Miller

A cell phone application that will help illegal immigrants find water and key landmarks as they cross into the United States is an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds and an irresponsible use of technology, critics say.

The Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT), the brainchild of three faculty members at the University of California-San Diego and a colleague at the University of Michigan, is a software application that can be installed into a GPS-enabled cell phone. In addition to helping immigrants locate water and landmarks, it also could alert them to Border Patrol checkpoints. And to make the trek a little less arduous, it also plays recorded poetry.

“I don’t think it’s an appropriate use of technology,” U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told “If other governments did this and tried to tell people ways to sneak into the U.S., I’m sure the Department of Defense would take issue with that. But because American universities are doing it, there’s not a whole lot of outcry about it.”

Hunter said he found the project to be a poor use of taxpayer money, particularly doing a recession.

Joe Kasper, Hunter’s spokesman, accused the universities of “functioning as a platform” for a system that could potentially help human smugglers and illegal immigrants enter the United States.

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