The Houston Immigrant and Refugee Hotline is expanding. “The hotline started last February as a response to the travel ban, and just a lot of people having questions even naturalized citizens not knowing if they could travel, and then with all the rest of the executive orders people really being afraid of this anti-immigrant climate not knowing their rights,” said Andrea Guttin of Houston Immigration Legal Services.
The hotline helps tell people what their constitutional rights are and provides referrals to free and low-cost immigration attorneys. Since the hotline started in 2017, there has been a huge demand in the community for people wanting their questions to be answered. “This hotline is a great opportunity for our community. It’s a powerful tool for them to know that they are not alone,” said the Lead Organizer of United We Dream Houston, Damaris Gonzalez.
She was once an undocumented citizen. She crossed the border with her parents when she was just 9 years old. Her life changed when DACA was implemented in 2012, she says the hotline is necessary. “It opens doors for the community to have resources that they may not know of or be aware of. Some of them don’t speak because of fear, some of them don’t know what rights they have and so our goal is to improve that in our communities and educate them about things that are effecting them,” said Gonzalez.
Starting Mar. 12, the hotline will take calls Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Calls will be taken in Spanish and English along with a variety of other languages at 833-468-4664. “We believe in welcoming people regardless of their status, whether they are documented or undocumented we want to make sure people feel welcomed and they belong to the community that they live in,” said Friday Villalobos.