How Do I Locate a Relative or Friend Who Was Picked up by ICE?

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Dealing With ICE and Navigating the Immigration Detention System

Learning that a relative or friend was detained by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can be both frightening and shocking. You can be left feeling uncertain about the next steps, how to contact them, and what you can do to help.

If a family member or a person you know has been arrested and is under ICE custody, it is crucial to contact a lawyer immediately. An experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate the complex procedures involved with ICE detention.

The trusted immigration lawyers at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law are here to help you determine the best course of action. Our legal team will advocate for you or your loved one’s rights.

Understanding ICE Detention

ICE is part of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is primarily responsible for enforcing immigration laws in the United States.

ICE has the authority to arrest and detain undocumented immigrants or non-citizens who commit immigration violations. ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) division is the authoritative body that completes these procedures. Through ERO, ICE identifies, arrests, detains, and removes non-citizens who are subject to removal or are unlawfully present in the US.

Reasons for Detention by ICE

The government can detain foreign nationals for violating immigration law. There are several reasons for ICE to detain an immigrant, such as:

  • The person is a flight risk and may move to an undisclosed US location while their deportation case is pending.

  • They present a threat to public safety.

  • They have committed a crime.

  • They arrived at the border without a visa or a valid visa.

  • They have a deportation order.

  • They failed to attend an immigration court hearing.

Locating an Individual Detained by ICE

A person arrested by ICE personnel may be detained at the ICE detention facility. Some ways to locate a relative or friend who was picked up by ICE customs enforcement include:

  • Using the ICE locator system.

  • Contacting local ICE offices.

  • Contacting the detention center.

Using the ICE Online Detainee Locator System

The ICE online detainee locator system is an online database. You can use it to locate a person 18 years or older being held in any ICE detention facility across the country.

Keep in mind that it may take at least 24 hours for the person’s name to appear in the system. Remember, too, that the detainee locator system cannot search for records of persons below 18 years old.

If you are using the ICE online locator for the first time, you can locate a detainee using their:

  1. Alien registration number (or A-number): This is a nine-digit number found on the immigrant’s visa or green card. Add zeros at the beginning if the Alien registration number is fewer than nine digits. Searching by A-number also requires selecting the detainee’s country of birth.
  2. Biographical information: Enter the first and last name of the person you are looking for and their country of birth. If it is a hyphenated name and the name does not appear on the search, replace the hyphen with a space or remove the space between the names. To narrow down the search, enter the person’s date of birth.

Contacting Local ICE Offices

If the person’s name cannot be found in the ICE detainee locator system, you can go to an ERO field office and ask about the person you are looking for.

There may also be times when the detained persons are in a local jail, not at the ICE detention facilities. You may also consider visiting the local jail facilities. You may have to call the jails and correctional facilities first or go there to look for the arrested person.

Contacting the Detention Center

Contact the detention facility directly if you know the exact detention center where your relative or friend is detained. There are hundreds of detention facilities in the US. You may search for a particular detention facility by visiting this site and filtering to the particular center or facility name.

You may call the given contact number and confirm if the detainee is still there. You could also ask about their visiting hours, visitor requirements, and other regulations about visitation.

What Happens After an Individual Is Detained by ICE?

A person detained by ICE is likely to be undocumented or has criminal convictions. Deportation is possible, although not necessarily automatic.

If ICE has detained the person, they will be interviewed by a deportation officer. After the interview, the officer will decide whether to place the detained immigrant in removal procedures or grant the person release with or without bond.

A person released may have been issued an order of supervision, which is an order to release with certain conditions. The purpose of this order is to reduce the flight risk of the individual and to keep tabs on the detainee.

Steps To Take after Locating Your Relative or Friend

According to statistics, Texas has the most detainees in FY 2024, with a total of 14,070 detainees as of December 26, 2023. At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we can help you locate your loved one at ICE in Houston, TX, and other detention facilities and determine the proper course of action to help your family member be released from ICE custody.

A trusted lawyer will assist you with requesting a bond so that your friend or relative can be released from detention. Additionally, even if the person has an outstanding removal order, an experienced lawyer can help examine all avenues of relief to prevent your friend or family’s deportation.

Immigration law is complex, and there can be various avenues of relief available depending on your loved one’s situation. An immigration attorney can explain these options, the likelihood of success, and possible outcomes.

How Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law Can Help

A person may be placed in ICE custody for several reasons, such as arriving in the US without a proper visa, committing a crime, or on a pending deportation order. Finding your loved one after they have been detained can be challenging and time-consuming.

If a person close to you is arrested and detained by the ICE, it is wise to seek the help of seasoned immigration lawyers. Individuals detained by ICE are not automatically provided with an attorney, and individuals with access to counsel are far more likely to obtain immigration relief.

The team at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, have the knowledge and experience handling immigration-related cases. Whether you want to locate a dear friend or relative detained in ICE Detention Centers in Texas or any other ICE detention facility, our law firm can assist you in locating and eventually visiting them. More importantly, we can help your friend or relative navigate the complex immigration proceedings from the very beginning up to the end.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.