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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." 

Senate GOP pushes DOJ to roll back Trump oversight rule

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Republicans want the Justice Department to roll back Trump-era restrictions on congressional oversight criticized at the time as an attempt to insulate the Trump administration from Democratic investigators, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: While some Republicans spoke out against the DOJ guidance at the time, it was mostly Democrats who attacked it as a constitutionally dubious effort to scuttle congressional oversight. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and the GOP is making similar arguments with Biden in the White House.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
56 mins ago - Economy & Business

The great venture capital resignation

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A growing number of top VCs are calling it quits, long before typical retirement age.

Between the lines: Generational turnover isn't new for venture capital, but in the past it's been born of lean times. What we're seeing now is the byproduct of unprecedented success.