Smartphone App Calls for Help When Illegal Immigrants Are Detained


An immigration advocacy organization has developed an app designed to notify a list of family members if an individual is at risk for deportation. The app, Notifica, sends out pre-composed notices to designated lists of family members, legal advocates or other contacts, informing them that the sender may have been detained by police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

“Important message from Julia: Hi, the police want to talk to me and I may need your help. If you don’t hear from me within 2 hours, I may have been detained. Please get in touch with my lawyer and let them know where I was last,” reads a sample message on Notifica’s website, along with a secondary message of a map and a message that reads, “My approximate location is:”.

Notifica was created by United We Dream, an organization that bills itself as the “largest immigrant youth-led community in the country.” The organization advocates for immigrant rights, provides legal assistance for those facing deportation, educational services for undocumented immigrants and also advocates for LGBTQ rights.

The app has received some publicity in recent weeks for helping “illegal immigrants avoid federal immigration authorities,” but it isn’t exactly clear which function those claims refer to. The app cannot alert undocumented immigrants of impending raids or stops by immigration officials – it only alerts pre-determined contacts when an individual is taken into custody.

The app was created in 2017 by 25-year-old undocumented immigrant Adrian Reyna, who wanted to create a virtual version of a “panic button” when illegal immigrants are confronted by ICE agents, for example.

“Pressing a button won’t end the deportation, but it will give many families like mine an added layer of security by communicating to them that we are moving into whatever emergency plan we have created,” Reyna told Mashable last year.

Photo by Huge/Notifica

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