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September 23, 2017

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Detained by ICE? There’s an app coming for that

App for detainees: A group of immigrant advocates in Arizona is working on a smartphone application to assist those detained by immigration authorities. The app will provide users with information about their right to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning in English and Spanish. It can also send a message to a predetermined list of people, such as attorneys, family and friends, alerting them that the user has been detained.

The organizations Respect/Respeto and the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform are involved in the project.

From a New America Media report:

"[T]he 'Emergency Alert and Personal Protection' app will send a preset list of people information about the person's location using GPS technology and date and time of the incident. The app also will have an option to record audio and video, which is a common function on most mobile phones, but it will take it a step further by sending the audio and video to a 'web interface,' where the data can be stored and accessed by lawyers, for example.

"It will also inform them, in English and Spanish, of their civil rights if they are arrested during a traffic stop — for example, reminding them that they have the right to remain silent and have an attorney present during questioning."

Developers started a page on, a site for raising money for projects, and have received $190 since March 1. Their goal is $225,000. The fundraising initiative is set to last for 30 days, and, if enough funding is obtained, the organizations hope to work with a developer and release the app in July.

Justice Department backtracking on statement to Supreme Court: In 2009, in a case before the Supreme Court, the U.S. Justice Department said the government assisted immigrants who had been deported in returning to the United States if they later appealed the deportation order and won. The court then used that information to uphold the deportations as legal and not "categorically irreparable" to the immigrants. It turns out that was not true and, when pressed, the government could not show any examples of having aided a deportee in their return.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports the Justice Department is prepared to correct the misleading statements that may have influenced the court's decision.

U.S. agencies enforcing immigration laws can improve communication: A recent report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General concludes that 10 years after 9/11, there is still room for improvement in the ways various enforcement agencies share information and collaborate.

The report specifically focuses on how information is shared about foreign nationals at U.S. borders. The report points out some successes along with problem areas and makes eight recommendations, five of which were accepted by Homeland Security.

From the executive summary:

"Some DHS components have developed special-purpose, user-friendly interfaces so that computer users performing focused operations, such as primary inspections at ports of entry, can access DHS databases. However, fragmented data systems and inadequate resources and infrastructure remain a challenge for many officers involved in border security.

“Relationships among components work well when they are adequately resourced and their missions are clearly defined. However, some relationships, most notably among law enforcement components on the northern and southern borders, struggle with mission overlap and inadequate information sharing. The U.S. Coast Guard's effective and efficient information sharing approach is an example of how complex multiagency efforts can succeed. However, the sharing of information among other components is still evolving."

Download a summary of the report here, and download the full report here.

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