“The blurring of the lines between art and advertising is such that the very idea of critical public spaces has lost its meaning.”

Chantal Mouffe – Agonistics [1]

The total length of the continental border is 3,201 kilometers (1,989 mi). From the Gulf of Mexico, it follows the course of the Rio Grande to the border crossing at Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and El Paso, Texas; westward from that binational conurbation it crosses vast tracts of the Chihuahua and Sonoran Deserts to the Colorado River Delta, westward to the binational conurbation of San Diego, California and Tijuana, Baja California, before reaching the Pacific Ocean.

In 2006, during the Bush administration, the U.S. government had plans to erect a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. The proposal included many individual fences, covering almost 600 miles (970 km). The fences were built out of steel and concrete. In between these fences are infrared cameras and sensors, National Guard soldiers and SWAT teams on alert, giving rise to the term “virtual fence.”[2] The initiative finished in 2010 due its cost, after having completed 640 miles (1,030 km). Now, president-elect Donald J. Trump wants to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. He has stated that Mexico will pay for the wall.[3] [4]

According to The Washington Times, nearly 409,000 undocumented immigrants were nabbed at the border in fiscal year 2016. Among them, the number of undocumented immigrants traveling as families from Central America reached a record of 77,674.[5] President-elect of United States Donald J. Trump, who is expected to take office as the 45th President, has a drastic vision of immigration policy, encapsulating the construction of a wall on the southern border of United States.[6]

Demographics of the population crossing the southern border of the U.S. include a mix from citizens from Mexico and Central American countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and others from South America, including Ecuador and Brazil.[7] The journey of immigrants is long, especially for those who need to cross the southern border of Mexico and traverse the entire country to arrive in the United States.

Some migrants choose to take cargo trains to cross Mexico, commonly called “La Bestia.”[8] In between 400,000 and 500,000 travel through Mexico every year, the majority of whom are Central American. Many of the dangers of using these trains result from the transportation itself and the process of climbing aboard and getting off moving trains. Some of the dangers faced along the northern route include: robbery and assault, extortion, intimidation and threats, corruption, destruction of documents, detention without legal counsel, and sexually aggressive acts.

Another option for migrants is to pay smugglers, colloquially called “coyotes,” a fee to guide them across the border. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) define smuggling as the “Importation of people into the United States involving deliberate evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing human beings into the country, as well as the unlawful transportation and harboring of immigrants already in the United States.” [9] Migrants pay coyote fees of about $3000–$4000 to enter the United States illegally by crossing the southern border, according the Mexican Migration Project.[10] [11]

Coyote® is an art project with the goal to critique the U.S. immigration system, using the language of corporate advertisements to reveal the conniving nature of the authorities on both sides of the border who perpetuate the adversities migrants face in their journey from their origin point to the final destination in the U.S. The product advertised is a mobile application that offers several services to migrants to fit their needs while following their unpredictable and dangerous itinerary:
a. Coyote® Social

During the adventure, many migrants get disconnected from their companion or families. Often, migrants fall asleep while riding atop trains and are jolted off and onto the tracks where they can be killed instantly by decapitation, blood loss, and shock. Because accidents often occur in the darkness of the night and in rural areas, victims are often not immediately found. Another danger migrants face is the lucrative business of kidnapping by drug gangs such as Los Zetas. Simultaneously, the appearance of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) crossing the U.S. border is common. Particularly in 2016, there has been a surge of those minors according to the Department of Homeland Security.[12] Coyote® Social “reconnects” these separated parties.
b. Coyote® Ride
The practice of human smuggling (coyotaje) is a financially growing sector. Coyote® facilitates the many people wanting to participate in the business. The app will guarantee a successful journey for immigrants by using successful transportation business models similar to Uber® or lyft®. Users are able to interact with smugglers and see reviews of previous customers helping to eliminate the fraudulent behaviors associated with helping migrants cross the border.

c. AZBR Drone Locator

Arizona Border Recon is an American paramilitary militia group in Arizona composed of former military, law enforcement and private security contractors. AZBR originally targeted illegal immigration, but as of 2015 had a stated goal of disrupting drug smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border and preventing infiltration by foreign terrorists.[13] [14] [15] Coyote® will provide a network of drones overflying the border watching for these armed individuals. The app will give real time location to the migrators to protect them from getting assaulted.
d. Water Fountains

One of the most common pathways for migrants to cross the southern U.S. border is through the desert; 389 miles of Arizona’s arid southern border with Mexico cuts through 100,000 square miles of sparse desert. The trek from Mexico into Arizona’s eastern stretches can be dangerous. Since 2001, more than 2,100 migrants have perished beneath in the Arizona sun. The climate conditions of this environment can be extreme: temperatures over 100 degrees create complicated conditions for human beings.[16] Coyote® arranges a set of water fountains in temporary locations to provide hydration and meet other needs for the journey, such as phone chargers and computers with a database containing all the features offered by the application and more information to support migrant survival.

The stations are maintained and regularly relocated by affiliated non-profit organizations with the goal to help the migrants in their attempt to safely cross the U.S. border.
e. Panic Button

According to a shocking Fusion investigation, eighty percent of women and girls crossing into the U.S. by way of Mexico are raped during their journey.[17] [18] An Amnesty International report previously estimated the rate of sexual assault at about sixty percent. The Panic Button is a feature for vulnerable migrants to instantly report physical abuse and/or predatory male behavior. Coyote® will send emergency responses to the network of users nearby the woman, as well to the network of affiliated organizations to save the victim from this aggressor as rapidly as possible.

f. Money Transfer

The decision for a migrant to move to the United States is not just hard because of the separation from relatives and feeling of being uprooted. Relocating to a new country also carries a great economic investment. Normally, migrants carry their savings with them during the journey. The alarming statistics show that eighty percent of migrants will be assaulted or robbed. A lucrative side business for the drug gangs (especially the Zetas) is kidnapping migrants; they can get as much as $2,500 for each victim.[19]

Since carrying cash is a big risk for the migrant, Coyote® will offer Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency and payment system. The app will provide a wallet that stores the information necessary to transact bitcoins. While wallets are often described as a place to hold or store bitcoins, due the nature of the system, bitcoins are inseparable from the blockchain transaction ledger.

If the user isn’t familiar with cryptocurrencies, Coyote® will offer a partnership with the best online money transfer services to access support from their home country. The user can select from a handful of possibilities to get secure access to their savings, as well as have the opportunity to quickly send and receive money to their family members overseas.

g. English-Spanish, Spanish-English Translator

The last offering of the app is a translator from English to Spanish and vice versa with text-to-speech and voice recognition.

The wall promised by president-elect Donald J. Trump is already in his voters’ minds. However, Coyote® emphasizes the banality of the controversial proposed structure by installing billboards advertising the mobile application along the current fence. This project emphasize the paradox of immigration policies, the existence of submerged economies and make visible the dehumanization of the invisible labor force of illegal immigrants in United States in their journey to pursue the “American Dream” or just simply “A Better Life”. 

December 2016, Cambridge, MA


[1] Mouffe, Chantal. Agonistics: Thinking The World Politically, 2003
[2] Vulliamy, Ed. Amexica: War Along the Borderline. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
[3] Trump, Donald J. Presidential Campaign. Republican Party. Pay for the Wall. 2016
[4] Collinson, Stephen and Diamond, Jeremy. CNN, September 1, 2016. Mexican president disputes Trump over border wall payment discussion.
[5] Border security slips as illegal immigration rises significantly over past year
[6] Trump, Donald J. Presidential Campaign. Republican Party, 2016. President-elect Donald J. Trump vision’s
[7] Krogstad, Jens Manuel, Passel, Jeffrey S. and Cohn, D’Vera. PewResearchCenter, November 3 2016. 5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.
[8] Dominguez Villegas, Rodrigo. Migration Policy Institute, September 10, 2014. Central American Migrants and “La Bestia”: The Route, Dangers, and Government Responses.
[9] U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Human Smuggling.
[10] Rampell, Catherine. Economix, May 18, 2009. Why Are Mexican Smugglers’ Fees Still Rising? .
[11] Office of Population Research. Princeton University. What’s the MMP?.
[12] Seales, Chance. kxan, June 21, 2016. Unaccompanied children crossing southern border up 78% in 2016.
[14] Mallone, Laura. WIRED, September 23, 2015. On a Mission With the Men of Arizona Border Recon.
[15] Stamets, Bill. Cartel Land: civilian outliers versus outlaw capitalists.
[16] Holley, Peter. The Washington Post. November 25, 2015. These armed civilians are patrolling the border to keep ISIS out of America.
[17] McIntyre, Erin Siegal. Aljazeera America, March 11, 2014. Death in the desert: The dangerous trek between Mexico and Arizona.
[18] Goldberg, Eleanor. The Huffington Post, September 12, 2014. 80% Of Central American Women, Girls Are Raped Crossing Into The U.S.
[19] Bonello, Deborah and McIntyre, Erin Siegal., September 10, 2014. Is rape the price to pay for migrant women chasing the American Dream?


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