“I’m Getting Arrested” App Aims to Help Undocumented Immigrants


Written by Valeria Fernandez

PHOENIX — A group of pro-immigrant rights activists in Arizona aim to develop a smartphone application that would help immigrants notify friends, family and their attorney if they are detained and arrested during a traffic stop.

Arizona was the first state to pass a law to make it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant (SB 1070), leading to an increased crackdown and climate of fear among immigrants. A recent Department of Justice investigation on racial profiling of Latinos by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office found that Latinos were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over in a traffic stop than non-Latinos.

“When someone gets pulled over the first thing to worry about is the family,” said Lydia Guzman, the president of the nonprofit Respect/Respeto.

For years, the nonprofit’s emergency hotline has monitored cases of possible civil rights violations against Latinos by local law enforcement, provided information about rights, and tracked down missing family members in immigration custody after undocumented drivers are detained.

“It’s difficult. We try to get all of this information from them to reach their family, while at the same time we’re trying to advise them about their rights,” she said.

It was Guzman’s experience with Respect/Respeto and the increased crackdown on undocumented immigrants by local police using state laws that inspired her friend Todd Landfried, a spokesperson for Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, to come up with an idea for a smartphone app that could do what the group does and more.

The app will allow users to notify family, friends, attorneys and even their consulate when they get pulled over by law enforcement or when they are facing an emergency situation that puts their safety or civil rights at risk.

With the touch of a button, Landfried says, the “Emergency Alert and Personal Protection” app will send a pre-set list of people information about the person’s location using GPS technology and date and time of the incident. The app will also 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.

Guzman says the app could help people make split-second decisions at a crucial moment about who to call and how to get help. She says it would also provide immigrant advocates a starting point to search for undocumented immigrants once they are in the detention system – a search that can sometimes take days.

In order to take the app from idea to reality, Landfried and Guzman recently launched a 30-day crowdfunding campaign to support the development of the app. If they reach their goal of raising $225,000, they will work with a software developer to have the app ready by July. Donors would get the app, which will cost about $2, for free.

The app is similar to the “I’m Getting Arrested” app that launched in response to the arrests of protestors involved in the Occupy movement. Landfried and Guzman say their app would be designed to specifically address the situation of undocumented immigrants pulled over in traffic stops. They say it would consolidate functions on the phone to allow users to document, store and send photos, audio and video to web interface that can be used to document racial profiling or violations of civil liberties.

Landfried says he believes Latinos are well-positioned to make use of such an app based on recent trends of Latinos’ usage of smartphones.

According to a 2010 Nielsen Company report, 45 percent of Hispanic mobile users have a smartphone compared to just over a quarter of white mobile users.

Landfried and Guzman say they hope the app can be a tool for tracking statistics of potential instances of racial profiling.

“Keeping in mind you have to protect the attorney-client privilege,” Landfried said. “If data was made anonymous, we can track how many times people hit the button for traffic stops and they can fill in later what the outcome was.”

“This is about protecting people. Everybody has rights, whether you like it or not,” he said.

This post was originally published by New America Media.


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C.M Padget
Carolyn Padget5 years ago

They must not be deporting as many as the press goes on about. Where I used to live was taken over by illegal immigrants, and nothing was ever done about it.
And I agree with Diana: "Criminal is criminal."
I will have a heart about this issue when they attempt to do it to those that are legal.

What is it that they have against entering the country legally as my ancestors did?

Myron Scott
Myron Scott5 years ago

Diana, I've been to Ellis Island. So were my maternal grandparents. Open door then, and that did more to discourage covert entry to this country and facilitate reasonable things like health checks and even quarantines than does current U.S. immigration policy. Reform U.S. immigration laws first, then and only then talk to me about deportations.

Mike C., last summer's police assaults on OWS demonstrators were shameful, and the cops and politicians were shameless. Like the Chicago Democratic Convention Riot of 1968, it wasn't demonstrators rioting, with very few exception. It was a "police riot" - this time from coast to coast.

Myron Scott
Myron Scott5 years ago

Ernest: C'mon, the "point" is obvious. If you now have chosen to
live in Canada rather than the U.S., you are not directly affected
by this issue. No one is saying your comments should be banned;
just that your opinion regarding this issue is irrelevant, or at least,
its relevance should be weighed in light of your current residence.
(It's called "full disclosure.") Korea was a long time ago, and this
thread deals with current U.S. policy; so your past military service
also is irrelevant.

BTW, I'm pretty old (although not so old that I felt compelled to
omit my birth year from my member profile); but "my" war was
Vietnam. I'm not quite old enough to remember Korea. From
what I know of the history of that era, however, I don't think that
war did any more to protect freedom in the U.S. than Nam did;
and Nam did nothing in that regard. Quite the opposite.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ Myron S.. “Your member profile says you're in Canada, doesn't it?” It does. I don’t know what your point would be. My nearly four years of service in the US army were supposed to help preserve American freedoms. Has freedom of expression been banned without my knowledge.? If not, you know where to stick your ‘personal’..

Anne Cole
.5 years ago

Hi Ellen, I got a pm from the "Rough Rider" too, with a link to a site he said would prove his existence. But that group was not listed.

Clifford, if you really want to keep this country safe, you'll go after the Koch Bros.

Ellen Mccabe
Ellen m5 years ago

Here's the Joke For The Day...I just received a pm from our rough Rider, border protecting Clifford.
After he informed me i was funny, he went on to say that he used ACLU material to train Minute Men types on the constitutional rights of all people, including illegals.
AND at the same time he was on the Board of the Southwestern New Mexico Chapter of the ACLU.
That's when i clicked "Block Contact"... To many ding dongs to deal with already without getting pm'd by them!

@ Mike C...I needed this app to protect myself from the illegal acts committed by the police!.
I would also like to see some kind of mandatory listing for all companies, large or small that send any part of their business oversees for whatever reason (to exploit desperate labor comes to mind), there by depriving Americans of jobs.
Now that is morally criminal you fake patriot!
Then i could avoid doing any business by/with them

Back to the app...To bad pepper spray pretty much negates getting to use it if needed.
What's needed is a partner app for "Reinforcement / protestor help needed" as they seem intent on hurting or disabling us rather than just allowing us due process.!

Amy E.
Amy Baggott5 years ago

What part of "illegal immigrant" do these people not understand? I have nothing against legal immigrants, but I fail to see why my tax dollars should go to support people who come into this country illegally, educate their children, pay for their healthcare, etc., etc. All they do is make those who followed the rules and came to this country legally look bad because they all get tarred with the same brush. My opinion of illegal immigrants is the same as my opinion of any other "line-jumpers" -- get back in line and wait your bloody turn!

Lynda Kerby
Lynda Kerby5 years ago

Oh how pathetic! I certainly did not say that aliens coming illegally into this country was the only problem that this nation has to deal with- it is the only problem that I personally have with this country. I have read so many stories of this issue from the illegal alien's point of view i.e. the latest issue of O Magazine, in hopes to be persuaded toward their blight, but it has only served to reinforce my current opinion.

Lynn C.
Lynn C5 years ago


Anne Cole
.5 years ago

This app was originally developed for OWS people; citizens who were illegally arrested for legally gathering.

Mike C, every time you talk about illegals, it just reminds us that you sent your company to China, to take away jobs here.