‘Panic Button’ Application Among Several New Aids Offered to Mexicans in US

By Mark Browne | April 20, 2017 | 10:21pm EDT
(Image: Mexico Department of Foreign Affiars)

Mexico City (CNSNews.com) – The Mexican government has added a “panic button” to its mobile application aimed at helping Mexican migrants in the U.S., while two other applications for immigrants in the U.S. without legal permission – both announced to fanfare in the media last month – have yet to appear online.

The mobile app “MiConsulMex” created by the government to help Mexicans in the U.S. find and contact the nearest Mexican consulate, now includes the added feature of a panic button.

The feature immediately connects the user with a consulate by text message or by a phone.

First made available by the Mexican government in 2013, the application has been downloaded 10,000 times on the Google play store for Android but gets an average low 2.5-star rating from users.

MiConsulMex is also available on the Apple store where one-star reviews (17) outnumber 5-star reviews (11). The Apple store doesn’t say how many times the application has been downloaded.

Highly touted in the media last month, the mobile application “Notifica” is supposed to let users who fear being apprehended by immigration authorities send preconfigured text messages in just seconds to their key contacts, according to reporting by Rolling Stone.

The application, however, has yet to appear on the Android platform where another application with the same name already exists and claims to connect patients with healthcare providers.

The Apple Store offers an application “Notifica,” that doesn’t function when downloaded and contains gibberish text.

Adrian Reyna, one of the creators of “Notifica,” is director of membership and technology strategies at a youth-led immigrant advocacy organization, United We Dream, Rolling Stone reported.

A spokesperson for United We Dream declined to comment when reached by CNSNews.com.

Another highly publicized application, “Redalertas,” promises to send users “verified alerts of ICE raids delivered to you securely,” according to its website.

That application, too, has also yet to be released.

“We are trying to develop a tool that will deliver real-time, verified alerts about nearby ICE raids, checkpoints or other types of immigration enforcement activity,” the website promises.

“The app will also allow witnesses to report raids or sightings along with critical details, which will then aid in verification of raids by advocates.”

Emailed queries to the Redalertas media contact went unanswered.

Some 7,946 Mexicans are now in detention in the U.S. awaiting deportation hearings, according to Danielle Bennett of the Department of Homeland Security.

Deportations of Mexicans during the first two months of 2017 totaled 19,155 – 2,914 fewer than the same period of 2016, she said.

An average of approximately 330,000 individuals have been admitted to ICE detention facilities in the U.S. over the past six years, according to Gillian M. Christensen, acting press secretary at the DHS.

Just this year, the Mexican government created a raft of new resources for its citizens in the U.S. facing immigration-related problems, including legal aid centers offering free help that have been opened at 50 Mexican consulates in the U.S., according to Reuters.

A call center has also been established to serve Mexicans seeking consular assistance, according to information on a Mexican department of foreign affairs website.

Designed to “protect the interests of Mexicans abroad,” the call center’s services include helping to locate missing or apprehended Mexicans as well as providing information on migration issues.

Mexico’s National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Financial Services has also weighed in with its own services for Mexican migrants.

The commission, working with the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, has created special services to help migrants with financial and banking issues.

A hotline, a dedicated email address and assistance booths planned for consulates in nine American cities are designed to help migrants transfer money to Mexico, and bank in the U.S.

Special events held in March in both the U.S. and Canada educated migrants on how to create a “contingency plan in the event of a possible deportation or detention,” including granting legal powers to a personal representative.

Enrique Morones, founder of the San Diego non-profit advocacy group Border Angels, told CNSNews.com migrants “are responding” to the new tools being offered by the Mexican government to its citizens in the U.S.

He said the increased threat of deportation under the Trump administration has spread fear in the immigrant community.

“People are so upset and so concerned about things which could happen.”

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