For immediate release

March 14, 2008

NJ May 1 Coalition

Contact: Eric Lerner 973-736-0522


In response to widespread immigration raids, a coalition of immigrant rights activists has announced the launching of a Rapid Response Network Hotline that will give help to those confronted with the raids.  The RRN Hotline, sponsored by the NJ May 1 Coalition and the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee is a 24-hour toll-free number covering New York and New Jersey that will provide immediate, contact with Spanish-speaking volunteers.  In the event of a raid, the volunteers will calmly inform callers of their basic rights, especially the right not to admit the ICE agents to their homes without a warrant signed by a judge and the right to remain silent. The hotline number is 1-800-308-0878.


“Most of the ICE raids on homes and workplace are fishing expeditions—ICE does not know who has documents and who does not,” explains Eric Lerner, a member of the NJ May 1 Coalition.  “Immigrants are detained and deported mainly as a result of information that they are frightened into providing the agents. If immigrants call the hotline as soon as they hear that knock on the door, the volunteers will explain to them their rights so that they don’t inadvertently give out information that leads to detention.”  Experience with Rapid Response Networks in other cities has shown that even immigrants who are aware of their rights can panic when confronted with armed ICE agents and forget those rights. The hotline provides a reassuring, knowledgeable individual who can remind the caller of their rights and encourage them to use them. 


“If we don’t let ICE agents in our homes, if we don’t speak with them, we can stop the detentions and deportations” a poster advertising the hotline states.


Rapid Response Network organizers emphasize that the hotline is designed to be used during the raids, as soon as ICE agents are seen or heard, not after detentions occur, because it is far easier to prevent detentions than to get people out of detention. They also emphasize that the hotline is only for raids and related emergencies, like employers threatening to call ICE agents. Routine immigration inquiries are to be directed to the long-existing NY Immigration hotline (212) 419-3737 in NJ or, in New York, (800) 566-7636.


The hotline will be publicized throughout immigrant neighborhoods by eye-catching posters, which also inform immigrants of their basic rights. The hotline is aimed initially at the Spanish-speaking section of the immigrant community as that is where the raids have mainly focused. Calls in English can also be handled.


The NJ May 1 Coalition and cooperating organizations throughout New York City and NJ are now starting to originating the second stage of the Rapid Response Network, which involves setting up Rapid Response Teams in every locality to respond to the raids. These teams would be sent by the phone volunteers to the site of an ongoing raid and will act as witnesses, recording the actions of the ICE agents. Experience in cities such as Los Angles with these teams has shown that their presence can deter ICE agents from violating immigrants’ rights, such as by breaking down doors. In addition, in some cases, the presence of witnesses, alerting the community to an ICE raid, causes a crowd of neighbors to gather, protesting the raid, often leading ICE agents to leave the area.


Participating groups are soliciting volunteers for the Rapid Response Teams, who will be trained.  No language skills are needed; but since the witnesses may be confronting ICE agents, the teams will consist only of citizens and those with valid visas or permanent residency. Additional Spanish-speaking phone volunteers are also encouraged. Those interested should contact or 973-736-0522. Posters and other materials are available at