During a recent episode of the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," the hotline was central to the plot, with one character warning another that "if they (ICE) figure out that you're using the hotline, Big Brother shuts it down." Season 7 of the show focused on an immigration detention storyline.
The episode was released July 26, and the hotline was allegedly shut down on Aug. 7.
According to Freedom for Immigrants, ICE shut the phone line down because it was not approved by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an approval that must take place every three years or a number will be removed from the system.
Freedom for Immigrants co-executive director Christina Fialho said their organization had never been on the EOIR list, but had been given a toll-free extension anyway. The group is now paying several thousand dollars a month to offer services to detainees for free.
The organization has sent a cease-and-desist letter to ICE claiming that shutting down the hotline is a violation of free speech and retaliation against criticism.
"Even a freely given benefit such as the pro bono hotline can't be taken away simply because the government is now unhappy with how we are sharing with the public what we know from our communications with people inside," Fialho said.
TheBlaze has reached out to ICE for clarification on this situation. The organization has not yet commented publicly on the hotline or potential reasons for its removal.