In an age where marketing and technology are used to game the system and make a profit, it should be no surprise that developers are promoting an app to help illegal aliens cross the border between Mexico and the United States.
A soon-to-be launched app promising to do just that is creating a stir on the Internet. The app, called Bienvenidos, says it can deliver “real-time information” to enable immigrants elude U.S. Border Patrol agents and evade natural hazards on the illegal journey into the U.S.
According to the website, the app was to be launched sometime in 2018. The details of the app, like the background on the developers and financial backers, are somewhat sketchy and under a cloud of secrecy.
The goal, according to YouTube introductory video on the site, is to make “immigration easier and safer for those looking to enter or reenter the United States” and “to make border crossing simpler and easier, improving the quality of everyone’s journey.”
It also claims to be able to warn illegal aliens of natural hazards and obstacles like heat waves, dangerous river crossings, and wild animals.
Adopting a sales pitch closer to Uber or Lyft, the application site suggests the prospective user imagine the “power of handily avoiding Border Patrol agents, saving time with faster immigration routes, and keeping tabs on the construction of the border wall and its vulnerabilities.”
When asked about the app. the U.S. Border Patrol spokesman told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram the agency “maintains a robust posture regarding the enforcement of our immigration laws along the nation’s borders and coastal areas. We continue to promote safe, legal and orderly migration via United States established ports of entry.”
The cavalier tone is oblivious to the impropriety of abetting individuals trying to break U.S. immigration law. The brazenness also is willfully ignorant of the real dangers of enabling MS-13 gang members evade capture or transport drugs and weapons across a porous border.
Many questions remain, such as whether the so-called developers can bring the marketing pitch to the market and what legal consequences lie ahead.
Victor Manjarrez, the head of the University of Texas-El Paso Center for Law & Human Behavior, argues the app could be used by coyotes to exploit immigrants with the promise of a cell phone and later exploitation.
“You could make an argument [that the app is]aiding and abetting,” Manjarrez tells KVIA-TV. “I don’t think they’ve looked at the potential consequences. How that could be exploited by a bad person.”
Many illegal immigrants carry cheap burner cell phones with them, but would they risk using a cell phone if doing so could possibly alert Border Control officers to their location? Or, if the illegal immigrants are so desperate would they even be able to afford a phone?
Whether Bienvenidos app is real or not, it is an idea with no upsides.