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Immigration hotline launched to aid detained citizens

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Deportation is a very serious consequence for people who have allegedly violated U.S. immigration laws. Those who have been targeted for deportation should seek legal help right away.

Washington, D.C., residents may have heard that the federal government recently set up a hotline to assist those who are wrongly held in immigration detention. The help-line was developed last month after the American Civil Liberties Union accused the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authority of holding four U.S. citizens in jail for four days in California.

It is important to know that federal immigration authorities do not have the right to detain U.S. citizens. Local police officers are allowed only to hold someone for no more than 48 hours without charging him or her with a crime.

The four citizens were held under the controversial "Secure Communities" program, in which the district also participates. Under this program, police officials share fingerprints with ICE. ICE then checks the fingerprints against immigration databases. The program is supposed to target only illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes, however, that is not always the case. In the California case mentioned above, one of the four men was detained after being picked up for shoplifting.

While this hotline (855-448-6903) is a very small step towards protecting hard-working residents from deportation, it does not directly protect anyone from deportation. Any individual with who runs into problems with ICE enforcement should contact an experienced immigration attorney immediately. The federal government has generally taken a very aggressive stance towards deportation, and a small mistake can have someone marked for deportation with great speed.

Source: New York Daily News, "Feds set up immigration help line for detained citizens," Erica Pearson, Dec. 29, 2011

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