Americans wrongly detained by U.S. immigration program can now call a toll free number

Joshua Lott/Reuters

A U.S. Border Patrol agent patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border in Naco, Ariz., in September.

One loud complaint about the “Secure Communities” immigration enforcement program is that it often snatches up U.S. citizens by mistake. Immigration officials have responded with a toll free number to straighten out errors.

Under Secure Communities, local police run the fingerprints of people they’ve arrested through a federal data base to identify undocumented immigrants. They detain anyone suspected of illegally entering the U.S. for possible deportation by federal authorities.

The American Civil Liberties Union says three US citizens were detained last month in L.A. County – something Immigration and Customs Enforcement says is not its policy.

ICE has now created a toll-free 24-hour hotline for those who say they’re U.S. citizens or the victim of a crime. ICE officials will be on the other end of the phone.

Arrestees will also get a new form that will tell them how long they can be lawfully detained. That form will also explain that they could be deported.

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