With the Trump administration set on deporting a larger number of undocumented immigrants – even those without criminal records – this community is making contingency plans, including finding guardians for their US-born children. But even the most prepared may not have time to alert their lawyers and loved ones in the case of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid.
This is exactly what Adrian Reyna, an undocumented immigrant with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection, verbalized while at a tech meet up for women and Latinos in San Francisco late last year. “There’s never going to be a panic button for when ICE comes to the door,” he said at the event, according to Wired. Natalia Margolis, who felt helpless after the last election and heard Reyna’s words, thought there should be. So the engineer took the idea back to her co-workers at digital agency Huge. Out of this came Notifica – an app that debuted this week during SXSW.
Through the app, users can select the people they’d want to notify if detained. In case of an emergency, the app would send a personalized message to each person, including spouses, lawyers, children, friends, etc. They’re protected by a PIN, so that if the phone’s lost or stolen, no one else can access the messages. On top of an app, Huge also created a phone hotline for those who may not have access to a phone at the time, but may be able to eventually make a phone call. The company has teamed up with United We Dream, where Reyna serves as the director of membership and tech strategies.
“In the time we spent developing the app, it became clear that this was less about panic and more about being prepared,” Margolis said, according to Mashable. “It’s about having certainty that you can reach your support network – that through technology, the people who have your back can feel closer to you at all times.”
As Daniela Vargas‘ case demonstrated, the combined efforts of lawyers, activists, community leaders, and loved ones can make a difference. Through their sustained endeavors, Vargas ended up released from ICE detention. This app allows undocumented immigrants to take preemptive action.
“I am undocumented, and so are my parents,” Reyna said. “They fear what would happen to me if I get detained. ICE is out of control. When they detain you, things move very fast. They harass you and intimidate you. With that uncertainty, it could be difficult to notify the people you trust or what to do.”