Settlement reached over free immigration detention hotline

Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (Seth Wenig, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LOS ANGELES – Immigrant advocates say they have reached a settlement with the U.S. government so they can keep operating a free hotline that lets detained immigrants report concerns about custody conditions.

Freedom for Immigrants said Thursday that a settlement was reached last week and approved by a federal court in Los Angeles. The group said it can keep running the hotline provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for at least five years.

“This settlement is a victory for the First Amendment rights of Freedom for Immigrants and immigrants in detention,” said Moez M. Kaba, an attorney for the group. “The government cannot simply silence expressions of dissent or critique from people speaking out against the conditions of confinement.”

The hotline had been operating since 2013 but the Trump administration yanked it shortly after it was featured on the TV show “Orange Is the New Black.”

A judge ordered the line be restored last year by issuing a preliminary injunction in the case.

A message seeking comment was left for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency previously said the group had let immigrants engage in three-way calling on the line to speak with family and that was not permitted.