ICE Shut Down a Free Immigration Hotline After it was Featured in a Show—Immigration Activists are Suing

According to reporting from NBC Southern California, Freedom for Immigrants (FFI), an immigrant rights group based in California, has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for ending a free hotline that offered detainees an opportunity to report poor or dangerous conditions in detention facilities. 

The hotline, which received a wave of national attention after it was featured in an episode of the hit Netflix show “Orange Is the New Black”, had been operated by the nonprofit group since 2013. Here, our California immigration attorneys explain the legal complaint.  

Allegation: ICE Retaliated Against Freedom for Immigrants (FFI)

FFI Operates a National Network Detainees

Freedom for Immigrants created and maintains a national visitation program for immigrant detainees. Through this program, the group coordinates visitation with people in ICE custody. These visitation programs are incredibly important, as they can help reduce the emotional trauma that immigrants face when being detained for months or even years. In most cases, immigrants have little or no family in the area that they are being held. 

ICE Has Long Sought to Hinder FFI 

In the complaint, FFI contends that United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has repeatedly interfered with its operations. Several specific examples of ICE attempting to restrict visitations are cited in the lawsuit, including at California-based detention facilities such as the Santa Ana City Jail and the Adelanto ICE Processing Center. 

The FFI Immigration Hotline Gained National Attention in July of 2019

FFI has operated its immigration hotline since 2013. The organization estimates that it received thousands of calls per month through the hotline, with a sharp spike occurring after President Trump assumed office in January of 2017. 

On July 26, 2019, the hotline was a key plot point in an episode of “Orange Is the New Black.” In the following days, several national media outlines, including Los Angeles Magazine, ran more in depth stories on the FFI hotline. One of the most highly viewed stories was written by an executive producer of the show—an op-ed published in Buzzfeed News that explained why the episode was made and that detailed her own heartbreaking trip to California’s largest immigration detention facility. 

Within Two Weeks, the Hotline Was Shut Down By ICE

Sadly, ICE appears to have quickly retaliated against the nonprofit organization. On August 7th, less than two weeks after the episode premiered, ICE starting shutting down access to the FFI immigration hotline at several facilities. Within weeks, the entire free hotline was shut down. Soon after, representatives for the agency began attacking FFI in the press. They are now suing ICE and DHS to reinstate free access to the hotline.  

Call Our Los Angeles, CA Immigration Law Team for Immediate Assistance

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we are proud advocates for immigrant rights. If you or your family member needs immigration law guidance, professional support is available. To arrange a fully confidential, no commitment review of your case, please call our Los Angeles law office. 


Josh Goldstein
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