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Immigrant Rights Hotline Offers Broad Mental Health Benefits

The Colorado Rapid Response Network has grown to more than 300 trained volunteers throughout the state, ready to respond to immigration raids. (DOD)
The Colorado Rapid Response Network has grown to more than 300 trained volunteers throughout the state, ready to respond to immigration raids. (DOD)
July 11, 2019

DENVER – As the Trump administration continues to threaten a roundup of undocumented immigrants, immigrant rights organizations in Colorado say they're ready.

Volunteers staffing a toll free rapid response hotline are helping communities respond to raids by reminding them of their legal rights and sharing information and resources.

That hotline number is 844-864-8341, and Cristian Solano-Cordóva, communications manager for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, encourages people at risk to call and make a family safety plan.

Cordova says many of the hotline's volunteers also are counselors.

"Some of them are connected with mental health institutions in their area, all across Colorado,” he explains. “So we help people connect to legal representation and we help people connect to mental health services, which are often needed for some of these young kids."

Cordova points to studies showing that threats of family separation and detention can create toxic stress in children, long-term traumatisation, and can blunt childhood development.

In addition to announcements of imminent deportations, President Donald Trump also has proposed fines of $750 a day for immigrants under order of detention, and has worked to block asylum seekers from reaching U.S soil.

Trump continues to maintain that he supports people entering the country legally.

Cordova says many people who volunteer to help immigrant families, through the hotline or in other ways, also receive benefits. He says witnessing another human being mistreated can trigger a fight or flight response where people choose either to turn away or get involved.

"So if you're one of those people that chooses to do something about it, this is a very good way of getting rid of that anxiety of seeing an injustice be done to a fellow human being and not being able to do anything about it," he says.

Hotline volunteers are currently fielding calls about ICE activity, and dispatch people trained as legal monitors when agents show up at schools or homes.

Cordova says a recent caller was told she didn't have to answer the door if agents couldn't produce a warrant signed by a judge. She didn't, and the agents were forced to walk away.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO