Operating out of Chicago, a hotline providing legal aid and assistance to undocumented immigrants is moving out of its trial stage and was formally introduced this week.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights created the hotline – 855-HELP-MY-F(amily) or 855-435-7693 – to help people facing deportation clear up the confusion surrounding the process and the proceedings.   The hotline was originally intended for those residing in the Illinois area but, according to its coordinator Dagmara Lopez, most calls during the trial month came from New York, New Jersey, California, and North Carolina, prompting the agency to offer separate services for out-of-state issues.

Volunteers take calls 24 hours a day offering guidance in English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese.  They begin by walking callers through a set of questions, and then provide references for lawyers, social service or government agencies.

According to the report:

Many calls have been from people asking questions about the 300,000 deportation cases under review by Department of Homeland Security officials for possible reprieves, said Stephen Smith, director of organizing at ICIRR. In those cases, the hotline has served as a way to keep people from being scammed by unscrupulous attorneys or notary publics.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people out there who want to take advantage of immigrants,” Smith said.

With 173 calls in its first month operating, the number is sure to multiply as the deportations continue and word of the hotline’s existence continues to spread.

[Photo by pipnstuff]

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