The 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week hotline is part of a "broader effort to improve our immigration enforcement process and prioritize resources to focus on threats to public safety, (on) repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, and immigration fugitives while continuing to strengthen oversight of the nation's immigration detention system and facilitate legal immigration," a news release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported by CNN.
The new measure was launched by the Department of Homeland Security to ensure detained individuals "are made aware of their rights" or "properly notified about their potential removal from the country," according to the release.
The hotline number is 855-448-6903.
The hotline was instituted after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other immigrant rights advocates identified four native-born U.S. citizens who were held unlawfully in custody through immigration detainers in Los Angeles County, Calif. One of these citizens was held for two days because of an immigration detainer despite repeatedly telling officers that he was a U.S. citizen," Laura Vazquez, immigration legislative analyst for the National Council of La Raza, told CNN in a statement. The council is a national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency reported Thursday that a hotline for people who “believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of crime” and were detained by state or local law enforcement agencies.”
The federal government participates to some extent with state and local police to enforce U.S. immigration law; however, implementation and the extent to which they interact has been reportedly controversial.
Maricopa County in Arizona has been in the spotlight because they violated U.S. civil rights laws by engaging in racial profiling of Hispanics and making unlawful arrests in sweeps on individuals they believe to be in this country illegally. Both Arizona and Alabama have the most punitive immigration legislation.
This move by the federal government to create the hotline for immigrants comes just before E-Verify goes into effect in some states on January 1, 2012. The data program is created to confirm prospective employee’s citizen or immigration status and is required in some states. Louisiana, Tennessee, South Caroline and Georgia will be requiring businesses to enroll in the program to verify potential employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.