U.S. Launches Free Legal Advice Hotline for Detained Immigrants

 @ashleyportero
on December 30 2011 11:47 AM
Immigration
Immigrants account for more than half of the less-skilled workers in America. REUTERS

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday that the agency has created a new telephone hotline aimed at ensuring that immigration detainees held by local police are informed of their rights, a move ICE claims is part of a broader effort to improve our immigration enforcement process.

The toll free number, (855) 448-6903, will allow detained individuals to contact federal immigration authorities if they believe they may be victims or the crime, or if they are U.S. citizens or residents being unlawfully detained, according to a statement posted on the ICE Web site.

The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center, which will provide translation services in several languages.

ICE personnel will collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office for immediate action, reads the statement.

In addition, ICE officials also plan to issue a form to all immigration detainees  that emphasizes law enforcement can only hold an individual for up to 48 hours, excluding the weekends and holidays. If ICE does not take them into custody within the time, the statement says the individual should contact their local law enforcement agency to inquire about their release from custody.

The new form -- available in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese translations -- will also include directions for individuals who may wish to issue a civil rights or civil liberties complaint, and specifies that the existence of a detainer should not impact or prejudice an individual's conditions of detention, including matters related to the individuals' custody classification, work or quarter assignments.

Scores of state and local police forces currently participate with the federal government under the 287(g) program, which allows them to enforce federal immigration law. The problem has been controversial since its established in 1996 since local police do not typically enforce federal law.

ICE has 287(g) agreements with 69 law enforcement agencies in 24 states, according to the program's fact sheet.

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