Immigration Law

Inside the New Emergency App for Undocumented Immigrants (Notifica)

Janelle Harris, Rolling Stone, March 21, 2017 - "[W]hen Reyna met software engineer Natalia Margolis at a meet-up for Latinx people in tech, they discovered that they shared a mutual interest in helping vulnerable immigrants. Reyna had ideas about how technology could empower undocumented communities, particularly to offset the stress of an ICE raid. One of them was to design a communication network for immigrants facing deportation emergencies. 

Margolis, part of the tech team at HUGE, a Brooklyn-based digital marketing and design agency, believed in the idea's merit. "I thought that was something concrete that we as an organization with a lot of privilege and resources could work on with him," she says. "It was a great partnership because he was able to give us a lot of context about what happens when someone is being detained and what sort of features would be useful." Within 24 hours, a prototype for an app had been developed. 

Designed with both English and Spanish language capabilities, Notifica allows users to preload up to 15 SMS text messages for friends, family, attorneys and other essential contacts, who will receive the alerts in less than two seconds – even if they don't have the app themselves. Users also have the option of phoning into the MigraWatch hotline, a call center manned by undocumented immigrants, to deploy their PIN-protected messages. While there's no payment capabilities to manage mortgages and other bills remotely – the HUGE team didn't want the app to store sensitive information – Reyna hopes users will engage Notifica as part of a larger emergency plan that assigns those responsibilities to a trusted person in a detainee's absence and guarantees coverage for their most critical needs. "