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People protesting ICE in May pass the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, where many undocumented immigrants are held in custody. Photo: David McNew via Getty Images.

An immigrant rights group said Thursday it has reached a settlement with federal immigration authorities that allows it to continue to operate a hotline used by detained immigrants across the U.S. to report abuses.

Why it matters: The toll-free number, believed to be the country's biggest immigration detention hotline, receives between 600 and 14,500 calls each month, according to Freedom for Immigrants, which sued the Trump administration after it shut down the line in 2019.

  • The hotline was featured on multiple episodes of Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," and was shut down two weeks after the show's final season premiered, according to the suit.

The big picture: A judge issued a preliminary injunction last year, ordering the hotline be restored.

  • Under the settlement, reached on July 1, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will provide uninterrupted access to the National Immigration Detention Hotline for at least five years and pay nearly $101,000 to cover the plaintiff attorney and court fees.

What they're saying: "In a system designed to dehumanize and disempower, the National Immigration Detention Hotline provides a critical means of connection for people in detention who are isolated from their loved ones and communities," Amanda Díaz, the hotline's manager, said in a statement.

  • “The hotline remains an indispensable tool in providing people in detention a secure way to report abuses and advocate for their freedom," she added.

"As part of building a just and humane immigration system, ICE is undertaking unprecedented steps to ensure that enforcement of our immigration laws is conducted fairly and with transparency," Acting ICE Press Secretary Paige Hughes said in a statement to Axios. "This settlement provides a vehicle to strengthen access to legal counsel and services. ICE supports expanding access for individuals to connect with family and legal services."

  • In 2019, an ICE spokesperson argued Freedom for Immigrants was"using the hotline for three-way calling to connect detainees to family members, which is a violation of the agency's telephone rules," NBC News reported.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from ICE.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DHS seeks operator for Guantánamo Bay migrant detention facility amid Del Rio surge

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool via Getty Images

The Biden administration is looking for a private contractor to oversee a migrant detention facility at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, according to a recent government listing.

Yes, but: A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said in an email on Wednesday night that the DHS "is not and will not send Haitian nationals being encountered at the southwest border to the Migrant Operations Center (MOC) in Guantanamo Bay." 

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

Senate Republicans block voting rights bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Jan. 18. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation from coming to a final vote on Wednesday in what was largely viewed as a doomed effort from the start.

Why it matters: The failed vote underscores the Democratic Party's current uphill battle to pass sweeping legislation in a 50-50 Senate.