ICE Launches Hotline for Detained Immigrants

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Thursday that it is setting up a toll-free hotline, (855) 448-6903, that immigrants detained by local police can call if they believe they are U.S. citizens or victims of a crime.

The 24-hour hotline will be staffed by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services will be available in several languages from 7 a.m. until midnight (Eastern) seven days a week.

"ICE personnel will collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office for immediate action," ICE said in a press release.

ICE said Thursday a form will also be issued to all detainees -- with available translations in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and Vietnamese -- informing them that ICE will assume their custody within 48 hours.

"It also advises individuals that if ICE does not take them into custody within the 48 hours, they should contact the police agency or entity that is holding them to inquire about their release from state or local custody," it said.

State and local police currently cooperate with federal immigration authorities under several controvsersial programs like 287(g), which allows agencies to enforce immigration law, and Secure Communities, which requires police to send fingerprints of anyone they arrest through a federal immigration database. The toll-free hotline is an attempt to address one of the criticisms of programs like Secure Communities -- many U.S. citizens end up getting caught in the system by mistake.

After the Justice Department announced the findings of its investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ended the agency's 287(g) agreement with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and limited their access to the Secure Communities federal database.