New York, NY, May 16, 2023 — Mere days since the end of Title 42 and the re-introduction of an “asylum ban” at the U.S. southern border, visits to information platforms managed by the International Rescue Committee in the region have increased significantly, as asylum-seekers look for information on asylum processes and other pathways to protection.
Between May 1 and May 11, the number of InfoDigna users — the IRC’s digital information platform in Mexico — doubled compared to the same period in April. Searches were mostly related to understanding the policy changes surrounding eligibility for asylum; Title 42 and how it impacts people’s ability to seek protection; Title 8 and what it means; what the CBP One smartphone app is and how to use it, and how to find relatives detained by authorities on either side of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Similarly, user visits to IRC’s InfoPa’lante platform for displaced people and migrants in Colombia skyrocketed, with an increase of more than 700% as people mostly looked for orientation on countries that do not require a visa for Venezuelans, the U.S. humanitarian parole process, Title 8, and information on risks to migration in the Darién Gap.
InfoDigna and Info’Palante, along with CuéntaNos, are digital information platforms that are part of the global Signpost project, which are powered by Zendesk. These platforms are designed to support forcibly displaced people in Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador, and northern Central America respectively. Signpost is designed to meet the information needs expressed by IRC users and ensure they can receive trustworthy answers to their most commonly asked questions and referrals to meet their needs, helping reduce the risks they face every day. The platform enables two-way communication, where a team of trained moderators provide direct assistance to requests or questions they receive.
In light of increasing need, the IRC is planning an expansion of InfoDigna with a U.S.-based moderator and content. The expansion will enable asylum-seekers on both sides of the border to access trusted information and connect to essential resources.
Julio Rank Wright, Regional Vice President for Latin America at the IRC said:
“The initial reduction in crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border following the end of Title 42 does not equal a reduction in humanitarian need for displaced persons in Latin America. Data from IRC’s information platforms for Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico demonstrates the skyrocketing rate of displaced people looking for answers. It should be no surprise that the thousands of people who have been actively stuck in limbo for days, weeks, months, years search for clarity on how they can effectively exercise their right to seek asylum and alternative pathways to find protection. The IRC has previously called for a humane, fair and predictable process at the U.S. Southern border, lest short-sighted responses actually amplify confusion and disorder for asylum-seeking and host communities alike. Increased and accurate information disempowers smugglers who thrive on misinformation, saves lives along displacement routes and helps asylum-seekers both understand their rights and make informed choices in the midst of humanitarian crisis.
“In the midst of this complex situation, funding for humanitarian responses in the region is going through drastic cuts. We call on the international community to step up their support and funding commitments to ensure a regional response to the needs of displaced populations, regardless of their origin or status.”
Signpost delivers critical information through staff equipped with digital tools, digital channels and social media — providing communities with timely and actionable information to make critical decisions on the issues that matter most to them. IRC’s Signpost digital initiatives in the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America and around the world have reached 56 million people.
The technology powering Signpost includes: a Zendesk-based communication system that allows staff to tag incoming inquiries and message clients from major social platforms (such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram); Multilingual chatbots that help direct people to information before connecting them to a moderator; Offline-functional websites that provide quick and clear informational content; Service maps that guide clients through service offerings, eligibility criteria, and contact information; and a Dashboard with reporting and analytics that allow Signpost to better target its content. For more information on Signpost and how it works, please click HERE.