The National Immigration Detention Hotline is a safe, confidential service offered to people in U.S. immigration detention at no cost to them.
It is the nation’s largest immigration detention hotline, connecting immigrants in detention to their family, resources, and abuse documentation support.
It was created and is managed by Freedom for Immigrants, and staffed by a team of highly trained multilingual advocates across the country. We receive over 14,000 calls per month from immigrant prisons and jails around the country. We have received calls from immigrants from 107 countries.
history of the hotline
Phone calls in immigration detention are expensive. A 15-minute phone call can cost as much as $17 because calls are placed through independent telephone companies that pay the immigration detention facility a “commission”— essentially a kickback — that ranges from 15 to 60 percent either as a portion of revenue, a fixed upfront fee, or a combination of both.
This means that placing a private phone call is often impossible for asylum seekers and other immigrants in detention who do not have access to financial resources.
In response, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC) has fought for reduced phone rates nationally by advocating with the Federal Communications Commission to cap interstate prison phone rates, by filing an amicus brief in Global Tel*Link v. Federal Communications Commission to defend a cap rate on intrastate prison phone rates, and by introducing legislation to cap all prison phone rates in California.
In late 2013, the FCC adopted an order to lower interstate prison phone rates, capping the cost for a 15-minute call at $3.75.
However, intrastate phone calls remain expensive. And because people in detention often are isolated from community support, they have few resources for reporting abuse to a non-governmental organization.
Therefore, Freedom for Immigrants launched its National Immigration Detention Hotline in 2015. We have developed a unique national hotline system to combine all the advantages of a national organization with all the abilities and expertise of local advocates. Our hotline makes it easier for people in more than 200 immigrant prisons and jails to report abuse without fear of government retaliation and be connected with the help they deserve.
Freedom for Immigrants’ National Immigration Detention Hotline started as a pilot program in Northern California in 2010 with the support of the Y & H Soda Foundation and in consultation with other organizations, such as Families for Freedom, who modeled one of the very first national hotlines supporting people in immigration detention in 2006.
How the Hotline Works
The National Immigration Detention Hotline is available only to people who are currently in U.S. immigration detention, and is available Monday through Friday from 6 am to 8 pm PST.
Calling the Hotline
To contact our rapid response hotline and complete an intake on behalf of someone in detention, call 209-757-FREE.
You can also email Cynthia Galaz at CGalaz@freedomforimmigrants.org.
Become a Hotline Advocate
To volunteer as a Hotline Advocate, you must be willing to dedicate at least two hours to the hotline per week, among other things. If you are interested in joining us in this role, please fill out the National Volunteer Application.