Immigrant rights groups launch network, hotline in response to ICE raids

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DENVER -- Members of eight community groups came together Thursday to tell undocumented immigrants they've got their backs.

The organizations staffed with more than 100 volunteers launched what's the Colorado Rapid Response Network, along with a 24-hour hotline to help immigrants deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and other potential abuses.

The phone call is answered by volunteers trained to track, verify and confirm ICE raids in the state.

The hotline is also meant to reduce the hysteria surrounding immigration enforcement actions.

"That is something we have to live with every day, knowing we could be separated from our loved ones and be stuck in this system meant to get rid of us as fast as possible," said Ana Rodriguez of Colorado People’s Alliance.

She knows this fear of deportation as an undocumented immigrant.

And so do many people at a news conference to announce new lines of support for the undocumented.

"We have seen since the election, an unprecedented fear in our communities and folks are really questioning whether they should continue to go to work, to go to school, to their medical appointments," said Nicole Melaku of Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition.

They see ICE enforcements on the news and social media. And now immigrant rights groups hope instead they'll see the support behind them.

Volunteers will rapidly respond to calls for help through a 24-hour hotline at 1-844-864-8341.

It's a number immigrants can call when they fear there's an ongoing ICE raid in their midst.

"When raids occur, we actually have a mechanism to confirm those are happening, to work with law enforcement and to provide support to folks facing detention," Melaku said.

Volunteers confirm the raid to callers and if there is one, send in trained observers to document the situation, along with lawyers to help possible detainees.

The service will also help make people such as Rodriguez feel they've got a network of people who care.

"A hotline like this lets us know someone in the community is willing to step up to help in these situations, when we don't know what do to," Rodriguez said.

The group encourages immigrants to call the hotline to confirm ICE operations instead of posting on social media and contribute to misinformation and resulting fear.

The network is privately funded through each organization and includes Padres & Jovenes Unidos, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Mi Familia Vota, Colorado People’s Alliance, Together Colorado, FRESC, American Friends Service Committee, United for a New Economy, and SEIU Local 105.