Since it was first introduced in 2018, the Rapid Response Hotline has undergone a gradual evolution to become the “Immigrant Hotline.” Irregardless, the hotline still serves the same essential purpose – to connect people with legal resources and the other essential services needed to ensure that everyone in Alachua County, regardless of country of origin, housing, disability, income, or any other status, can fully realize their human rights and feel welcome within our community.
The hotline was first organized and developed in order to respond to the heightened enforcement actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2017 and 2018. We recognized a need to connect the individuals and families targeted by those actions with accurate information about raids and detentions as well as with reliable lawyers and paralegals able to address immigration concerns.
From the beginning, our hotline was staffed by a bilingual (English and Spanish speaking) team trained in empathetic listening and basic emergency response protocol.
Over the years, we have recognized that most folks calling in to the hotline were not, in fact, in an emergency situation. Instead, most of the calls we receive are from folks seeking a reliable lawyer, hoping to sign up to get their HRC Community ID, or seeking another kind of social service, such as food distribution programs or adult education classes.
Recognizing this reality, the hotline model has shifted. Although still accepting calls 24/7, calls received after 5pm may go to our message line. We ask that callers leave a message so that the next day, one of our hotline responders can get back to them during the normal 9am to 5pm operating hours. Another key change to the hotline is that we have increased the number of hours when a trained immigration paralegal will be available. This means that callers’ questions on immigration issues can be answered much more quickly and directly than in the past.
So, please, give us a call! We’re still here to serve you!