Defense on the Go
Can Mexico's nationals turn to technology for protection against the Trump administration?
Could technology be the answer to the fear and misconceptions surrounding actions from President Donald Trump’s administration?
The response from the Consulate of Mexico has been, “Yes.”
In the face of increasing misinformation, the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia has taken technology to be the first line of defense against fear and what could be harmful reactions that may endanger Mexican immigrants.
The Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, Alicia Kerber-Palma, said the goal of the app is to help save Mexican nationals from the headache of navigating the legal terminology.
“The app was created a long time ago but the app has been improved to include all the information regarding immigration. Though I think it is important that all of our nationals and anyone that really wants be informed have this application because we have been given responses to a lot of rumors that’s not good,” said Kerber-Palma.
With updates on immigration, information on who to contact, and a direct line to the Legal Defense Centers created by the Consulate, the app will act as a way for Mexican citizens to stay connected to the consulate and get information, particularly about passports and immigration rights, on the go.
But the value of the app as the first line of defense is yet to be seen. Published in 2013, the app itself has been available to the public for almost 4 years though little have known of its existence.
With the availability of smartphones and easy access to news apps and social media, the new application is in direct competition with the swamp of information many get to their phones daily.
When the executive orders from the Trump administration were first released, as Twitter and Facebook were lit with news from various sources- both credible and not- many were calling the consulate simply for an update on what all of the information meant for them and their families. But as Consulate Alicia Kerber-Palma says, “When you act according to rumors, it takes a lot of time, you spend a lot of resources. So we want to have really official information,” said Keber-Palma.
Though few knew of the app of those surveyed at the consulate - and none having downloaded it - those who learned of the app stated that they were excited to use it and would refer to it as their primary source of information about issues regarding the Mexican government and relations between Mexico and the U.S..
Luis Ponce, a visitor to the consulate who newly downloaded the app, stated he would use it in the future to clear up misconceptions. “What matters is that you have to be more aware of information because, you know, Mexicans are the [one of the] biggest Latino populations among Hispanics in Philly, and we are those whom don't have easy access to concrete information on issues that affect our lives. For example, the benefits of having two citizenships (American and Mexican), people who think that becoming American means losing rights as Mexican,” said Ponce.
But for him, this line of defense came far too late, “I also must say that this app took too long to be out there because, as Mexicans, sometimes we are just unaware or don't show enough interest of things that are going on and we just wait for bad things to happen in order to react and ask for help. So this app is going to be an useful tool for us to be better informed,” said Ponce.
But outside of the confusion and search for solid information, the form of defense will also be the availability of lawyers ready to serve those who seek their council, “The 50 consulates that Mexico has in the United States are going to open the Centers for Defense of our nationals so that we can really see that all the human rights of our nationals are respected and that due process of our nationals is respected in case of detentions,” said the consulate.
Though no official figures of the downloads have been release of the app, the consulate is expecting an uptick in downloads as promotion of the app continues and more and more seek counsel in the days of Trump’s leadership.