REYNOSA, Mexico — For migrants in Reynosa, Mexico, it’s beyond annoying — in fact, it’s exasperating to try to make the CBP One mobile app work. Yet, so much is at stake for them because they now have to use the app to request asylum and have to keep on trying even if the result is always the same.
“It freezes and it stays frozen. When we try to go in and enter our information, it takes us to this screen and then it crashes,” said Wilson Peralta, a Peruvian migrant who was trying to help another migrant log in to his account while waiting for his app to unfreeze.
"I’ve done everything the system has asked. When we have sent everything, then we go here to get a date and time. But we get nothing," he said.
The complaints about this app are raging everywhere. CBP One is the official application of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as it reads in the app download page. It serves as a single portal to a variety of services provided by Customs and Border Protection. It’s supposed to be quick and convenient for the user, but Jean Claude can’t even advance to the second step.
“A lot of people is in there. Everybody is messing with the system and the whole system is blocked. Everyone, everyone is!" he exclaimed.
The process to use the application seems simple enough. You have to create an account, then, through a series of screens, you enter your biological information. After, you specify whether you are a traveler, a broker or a transportation carrier. Migrants have to snap a picture and enter how they are traveling — either by land, plane or boat. Then the system tells you your information has been received, but an appointment has not been scheduled yet. It instead creates a confirmation number. All that appears left for you to do is to tap on the “program” part in the app.
Done, right? Not so fast.
“I have done everything the system asked me. Then we access the system to get a date and time and it freezes right there. It freezes completely and we get no time or date," said Peralta, showing us the screen in his phone with the logo of CBP filling the screen. For Peralta, it had been like that for more than half an hour.
If you get past this point, you can select the point of entry for your appointment. But it’s right at this point that migrants are faced with discouragement. No matter where, there are no available appointments and you have to try later, or so it says.
“And there’s no answer! We don’t know what will become of us with this app," said another migrant with the group.
Even though migrants are required to use this app, it's important to note that the application is not only limited to them. Tourists with valid visas also have to use it to request parking ahead of their trip, and in the future, it will also be used for cargo and shipments.