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Booker, Colleagues Demand Answers from DHS and ICE on Termination of Immigration Detention Hotline

December 18, 2019
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala D. Harris, (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), today called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to provide justification for the termination of the National Immigration Detention Hotline, created by Freedom for Immigrants (FFI) and the subsequent retaliation perpetrated by the Trump administration against the organization.

In a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence, the lawmakers blasted the administration for a concerted effort to stifle organizations and advocates that support immigrants in detention.

“The National Immigration Detention Hotline was established in 2013 and available to people in U.S. immigration detention through an ICE pro bono telephone extension. FFI’s national hotline allowed tens of thousands of detained individuals and their loved ones to report abuses and request support freely and confidentially. This resource is particularly crucial because it allows connection to vulnerable and isolated individuals, such as those detained in remote areas [or those] without monetary means to make a phone call,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe ICE’s decision to restrict and then terminate FFI’s pro bono hotline is indicative of a broader pattern of restricting access to non-profit organizations working to advocate for and provide support to individuals impacted by immigration detention.”

The National Immigration Detention Hotline was terminated shortly after it was prominently featured in a popular television series. The letter outlines multiple instances of retaliation that Freedom for Immigrants and affiliates have faced under the Trump administration and asks oversight questions regarding pro bono immigration hotlines available to those in immigration detention as well as the decision making process that resulted in the termination of the hotline and an immigration visitation program.

The full text of the letter is below and can be read here.

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