ICE shuts down hotline run by California advocacy group for migrants in detention centers after it was featured in new season 7 episode of Orange Is the New Black
- ICE permanently shut down Freedom for Immigrants’ National Immigration Detention Hotline on August 7
- Freedom for Immigrants filed a cease and desist letter demanding ICE unblock the hotline
- The line allowed immigrants held in detention centers to contact pro bone lawyers and was featured in season 7of Netflix series Orange Is the New Black
- The hotline is mentioned in the fifth episode when Maritza approaches Gloria about the line that offers access to lawyers
- ICE told DailyMail.com the Freedom for Immigrants line it banned promoted connecting ‘detainees with their families’ by phone, which is prohibited
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shut down a hotline operated by a California advocacy group for immigrants held in detention centers after it was featured in an episode of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.
The National Immigration Detention Hotline, run by Freedom for Immigrants and active since 2013, was shut down August 7 following the July 26 season seven premiere of the streaming channel’s series.
Freedom for Immigrants sent the federal agency a cease and desist letter last week, accusing it of attacking the organization’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
In an email to DailyMail.com, ICE argued that the speed dial line it banned promoted contact between detainees and their family members.
The fifth episode of the seventh season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black features an exchange between Maritza (left) and Gloria (right) about a free of charge hotline that offers pro bone lawyers to detained undocumented immigrants. ICE terminated the line August 7
The hotline was featured in an episode of Orange is the New Black (pictured), the popular Netflix series whose seventh season debuted July 26
Freedom for Immigrants is challenging ICE’s decision to terminate a free hotline for immigrants held in detention centers
In the fifth episode of ‘Orange is the New Black’, Maritza, a character played by Diane Guerrero, approaches Gloria, who is portrayed by actress Selenis Leyva, about a free of charge hotline that offers pro bone lawyers.
But Gloria gives Maritza a stern warning: ‘You have to be careful, though. Apparently if they figure out that you’re using the hotline, Big Brother shuts it down.’
Freedom for Immigrants pro bono line was restricted to Florida facilities in October 2018 soon after ICE ended a volunteer visitation program ran by SOLACE, or Souls Offering Loving and Compassionate Ears.
In its letter, which included a letter signed by seven actors and producers of the hit Netflix series and also backed by 121 organizations, Freedom for Immigrants said ICE is ‘effectively preventing almost all contact between the organization and detained individuals through a safe and confidential channel. On August 7, 2019, two weeks after the premiere of OITNB, the line was shut down for the remaining Florida facilities. It is now entirely unoperational.’
According to the Los Angeles Times, Freedom for Immigrants founder co-executive director said the organization us running a regular line that offers free of charge phone calls to migrant detainees although its costing the group several thousands of dollars a month to keep it active.
In March, Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) and 14 other members of Congress sent ICE deputy director Ronald Vitiello a letter questioning the agency’s decision to shut down the National Immigration Hotline.
The federal immigration agency said Freedom for Immigrants’ charges were ‘simply not true. It’s false.’
‘It is also worth noting that Freedom for Immigrants openly advertises on its website that they connect detainees with their families,’ an ICE spokesperson said.
‘The pro bono line we’re discussing explicitly prohibits such conduct; it is a pro bono hotline for the purpose of connecting detainees with pro bono legal service providers. As such, the line is unmonitored and unrecorded.
‘Using the line for other purposes is strictly prohibited. There are multiple pathways for persons in ICE custody to communicate with friends and family – misuse of a dedicated pro bono legal service provider line is not one of them.’
Actors of the popular Netflix series ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Vicci Martinez (left) and Emily Tarver (right) recently joined Freedom for Immigrants’ co-founder Christina Fialho (center) at the Northwest Detention Facility in Washington