Locating People in Immigration Detention Facilities With the ICE Person Locator

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What Is the ICE Person Locator?

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is charged with enforcing the country’s immigration laws and facilitating the removal of immigrants who have violated those laws from the U.S. When their deportation officer(s) apprehend such people, they take them to detention centers to await deportation subject to the decision of an immigration judge.

There are many ICE Detention Centers in Texas and across the U.S. Some of them are located inside actual prisons, and one can only imagine the quality of life in those places.

Finding out your loved one is in such a detention facility can be frightening. It is more devastating when you have no idea where they are being held or how to secure their release. Because of how ICE operations are carried out, your loved one may not know their exact whereabouts even if they can call you from the facility.

Thankfully, the ICE has a very useful person locator that could help you find your loved one. This tool, formally known as the ICE Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS), allows members of the public to determine whether an individual is in ICE custody and, if so, the specific facility where they’ve been detained.

In this guide, we explain how to use the ICE locator and highlight some possible reasons why the ICE may have detained your loved one. This information would help you take steps to secure their release once you find them. 

Why Does the ICE Detain Immigrants?

The ICE detains non-U.S. citizens for three major reasons:

  • To ensure they show up for their hearing in immigration court if they are facing removal proceedings. 

  • To secure them for deportation if a deportation order has been issued against them

  • To comply with the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Act prescribes mandatory detention for certain non-citizens, including those who enter the U.S illegally or violate other provisions of the law.

Usually, when the ICE detains such people, other than those subject to mandatory detention, they will assess each case and determine whether the detained individual is a flight risk or a threat to public safety. This process is known as a custody determination.

Those found to not pose any risk will be released with conditions after the process. But these things take time, and before you know it, your loved one may have spent months in a facility without even getting a chance at a custody determination.

That is why it is important that you find them as soon as possible by using the ICE locator. With the help of an Immigration Attorney in Texas, you may be able to challenge their continued detention and secure their release.

How To Use the ICE Person Locator 

There are two ways to search for a detainee with the ICE online person locator: with the detainee’s alien registration number (A-number) or with their biographical information.

Search With the Detainees A-Number

If you know the detainee’s alien registration number, the ICE recommends you search for them using that information. The alien registration number is an identification number given to immigrants upon their arrival in the U.S. It comprises the letter ‘A’ followed by 8 or 9 numbers.

You can find the number on (copies of ) the person’s immigration documents. Once you find it, input it into the designated column on the locator portal. There’s also a column where you must input the detainee’s country of birth.

Once you’ve added these details, click “Search by A-Number.” The system will generate the information you need.

Search With the Detainee’s Biographical Information 

If you can’t find your loved one’s alien registration number, you can search using their biographic information, including their first and last name and country of birth. 

Once you complete the search, you should be able to see whether the person is in the ICE’s custody.

 If they are in custody, the online system will show the ICE detention facility holding them. It will also provide information about how to visit or contact them. 

What if the ICE Detainee Locator Doesn't Provide Any Information?

Sometimes, the ODLS may not produce any information after a search. This happens in certain circumstances, including when: 

  • Incorrect spellings are used in the search: Confirm that you’ve entered the person’s details correctly before you search.

  • The Person You Are Searching for is a Juvenile: Information on detainees under 18 cannot be accessed via the ODLS.

  • The Person Has Already Been Released or Deported: The information on the ODLS pertains to non-citizens who are currently in custody or who were in custody within the last 60 days. If you can’t find your loved one on the ODLS, there’s a good chance they have already been released or deported more than 60 days before your search.

If, for any reason, you cannot find any information about the person you’re searching for, you would need to contact the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Houston, or a local ICE field office near you and speak with a deportation officer to determine their whereabouts.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help

The ICE person locator can help you keep track of your loved ones who the ICE has detained. However, as we’ve seen in the previous section, the system doesn’t always work, especially if the information you have about the person you’re searching for is limited.

In such instances, you must contact the ICE office directly to get information about the individual. Getting ICE officers to divulge information about detainees could be difficult. You may need professional help from an experienced immigration lawyer who knows how the ICE processes work. They can help you navigate the system and find information about your loved one.

Locating the person you seek in a detention center can help set your mind at rest to some extent, knowing that they are at least safe. But if the ICE chooses to detain them continuously, they’ll remain in detention until the immigration court decides otherwise. 

You can help steer their case in the right direction by getting an immigration lawyer to represent them. An immigration lawyer can fight for them and argue for their release before an immigration judge. If they are already in removal proceedings, the immigration lawyer you choose can defend them in court and advocate for them throughout their case. That way, they are more likely to get a positive outcome and regain their freedom.

Contact Skilled Immigration Lawyers at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law

The ICE person locator can help you find a non-citizen detained by the ICE. But other steps must be taken if you hope to secure their release from ICE detention. An immigration lawyer is an invaluable resource in such ICE detention cases and can help as you fight for the freedom of your loved one.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we understand the complexities of ICE detention cases. With our years of immigration law practice experience, we can represent your loved one in immigration court, defend them from removal or deportation, and do all we can to secure their release.

If you’re having trouble locating an individual on the ICE locator, we can also help you liaise with the ICE and take the necessary steps to help you find them. Delays can make finding them more difficult, so once you find out about their detention, do not hesitate to contact us

Let us assess the situation, help you locate them, and secure their release.