Apps for Knowing Your Rights & Notifying in Emergencies

September 27th, 2017 | Blogs

In educating immigrants on their rights or on how to raise up their civic voices, organizations are increasingly deploying social media, creating websites and apps, and using texting to provide essential just-in-time information and anytime, anywhere learning. In recent months, two new apps have been developed to assist individuals to know and assert their rights in interactions with law enforcement as well as to quickly notify their emergency contacts.

The app is simple and easy to navigate even for users with low digital literacy. It includes a button users can press to have their rights read out to law enforcement in English. The rights content itself is available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Portuguese.

The Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles created a “Know Your Rights” app to help undocumented immigrants know that they, and all Americans for that matter, have constitutional rights if questioned by law enforcement, such as the right to remain silent, or not open the door unless there’s a warrant and the right to a lawyer.

Zu Kim, one of many volunteer app developers,  explained that they are still looking for volunteers to translate it into more languages. He also asked, “Please install the app to your friend’s and family’s phones so that they know what to do in case of an emergency.” The app has had more than 3,000 downloads so far in Google Play, but they hope to get many more with increased outreach and by making it available on iPhones.

In a Fusion video featuring the app and its developers, Jung Woo Kim of the Korean Resource Center emphasized how this app is for anyone, as even people who train others on their rights can freeze up and forget what to say when under pressure. He described a time when he was questioned by an immigration official, “When they asked me the questions, my mind just blanked, and it was very difficult for me to retrieve the words.”

For this reason, the developers are adding a feature to store emergency contacts, including key family members and lawyers, so that they could be reached quickly and in mass in a time of emergency.

Another new, similar app is Notifica developed by United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigrant advocacy organization in the country. It also offers to know your rights information and a system for notifying emergency contacts. Users can load 15 different pre-written messages for multiple people that can be deployed with the click of one button secured by a PIN. Featured in a Rolling Stone article, the app is still in beta testing for both Android and iTunes systems, but you can sign up to try it at Notifica.us.

The majority of adult learners now carry cellphones and even smartphones with them at all times. By introducing them to mobile tools such as these or others like the new USCIS Civics Test study app (bilingual in Spanish and English), or The Change Agent, we can bring critical information and opportunities to our students and community members. Are there particular digital tools or apps that you recommend for know-your-rights education and promoting civic engagement? Please contact the author, Alison Ascher Webber

Written by Alison Ascher Webber

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