The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched a new hotline to help locate detained undocumented immigrants and avoid U.S. citizens from mistakenly being taken into immigration custody.
The toll-free hotline (855) 448-6903 will be staffed 24 hours a day by the agency personnel and is available for detained individuals to phone if they think they "may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime." The agency also launched a new "detainer" form to help improve immigration enforcement.
The new practices are “part of a broader effort to improve our immigration enforcement process and prioritize resources to focus on threats to public safety, 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,” according to a press release.
This move comes after reports about U.S. citizens being detained in immigration detention centers. The New York Times reported that a growing number of citizens have been detained under the President Barack Obama administration's top enforcement program, Secure Communities, which is intended to detect undocumented immigrants who are arrested by local police officers.
Under President Obama, more than 1.1 million immigrants have been deported. That number is likely to grow as the president's central immigration enforcement policy, Secure Communities, is expected to be implemented in the whole country by 2013.
Fred Tsao, policy director with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, described the news as "an interesting development" that could help some people but said he needed to see more details.
The agency "provides a number for people who are detained, but a lot of the [detention] facilities have little phone access," Tsao said. "I wonder how this is going to work?"
© Community Renewal Society 2011