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Rep. Pallone Seeks Free Calls for Detained Immigrant Children, Parents

Following a report that phone rates at immigrant detention centers were as much as $8 per minute, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) Tuesday (June 26) introduced the Compassionate Calling and Immigrant Family Reunification Act of 2018.

Pallone put in a plug for the legislation at the House Communications Subcommittee NTIA re-authorization bill hearing.

Pallone said the bill was intended to address the "abusive practice of charging detained immigrant parents extortionary rates to use the phone to either contact their children that have been separated from them and placed in detention facilities or to contact federal agencies to learn where their children are being held."

The bill would reinstate the FCC's inmate calling order, parts of which were struck down by a federal court, but Pallone said that was because FCC chair Ajit Pai refused to defend the order, which had been adopted over his objections by the previous, Democratic-led FCC in 2015.

“My legislation will put an end to this needlessly punitive practice and direct the Trump Administration and the FCC to ensure that detained parents can make these calls free of charge," Pallone said.