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How to Find Out if Someone Is Detained by Immigration

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Unfortunately, stories abound about people disappearing, only for their loved ones to discover that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detained them. If you are wondering how to find out if someone is detained by immigration, you can begin by consulting ICE’s detainee locator tool or by contacting an ICE field office.

The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh is here to help. We can represent your loved one in immigration court and provide our compassionate support through the challenges of immigrant detention. When ICE detains someone you love, it can be terrifying. but you do not have to go through it alone.

How Can You Locate an Immigrant Detainee?

Contact an immigration attorney if you suspect ICE detained someone you love. The attorney can reach out to ICE on your behalf and help you find your loved one. Once you know where your loved one is, you can contact the facility holding them.

You have a couple of options if you are wondering how to know if someone is detained by immigration. As stated, you may use ICE’s online locator as long as the detainee is not a minor. If you cannot locate the detainee online, you may also contact ICE directly.

Online Locator

ICE’s online locator should provide the address where ICE holds detainees who are 18 and older. The locator is not always promptly updated, however. A delay of a couple of days means little to immigration officials but can be agonizing to the detainee’s family and friends.

ICE’s locator tool offers two location options: through a noncitizen’s A-number or biographical information. The U.S. immigration system assigns A-numbers to noncitizens, but an undocumented individual may not yet have an A-number.

You can also find your loved one using their name, country of birth, and birthdate. Note that the biographical search is frequently unreliable. The intake person may misspell names and format birthdates incorrectly. In fact, the name or birthday could also be wholly inaccurate. Noncitizens with two last names may have their last names reversed, omitted, or recorded as middle names by officials unaware of foreign naming conventions.

Contact an ICE Field Office

If you cannot confirm your loved one’s location online, you may contact an ICE field office. Generally, you should reach out to the nearest field office. Contacting an ICE field office may be the only option for those struggling with how to find a minor detained by immigration.

Why Does Immigration Detain People?

Noncitizens in the U.S., from green card holders to undocumented individuals, can be deported for violating immigration law. ICE is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) charged with enforcing U.S. immigration law. ICE works with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which monitors U.S. borders and entry points.

If ICE or CBP concludes a noncitizen has violated U.S. immigration law, they often place them in immigrant detention. Common immigration violations include:

  • Entering the country without authorization,
  • Overstaying a visa,
  • Committing a criminal act, and
  • Working without authorization.

The government may discover immigration violations in many ways, such as inspection at a border crossing, a workplace raid, or a criminal arrest.

When Does Immigration Detain People?

Pursuing deportation is discretionary, meaning ICE may choose to enforce the law against certain individuals but not others. Typically, immigration officials will detain noncitizens who attempt to cross the U.S. border without authorization at or near the border.

ICE may detain noncitizens who are within the U.S. border promptly or at a later date. For example, a noncitizen arrested for a crime may be held in state detention before being released into ICE custody.

Where Does Immigration Detain People?

ICE has several detention facilities. Unfortunately, depending on where you live and the space available at nearby facilities, a detained noncitizen may be taken a long distance away from where they are apprehended. You may be shocked to discover that ICE is detaining your loved one at a facility that is several hours away from home.

How Long Can You Be Detained in Immigration?

Noncitizens without legal status in the U.S. enjoy few protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. As a result, there are few limits on how long ICE can hold them. Immigration officials can generally hold detainees for as long as it takes the government to resolve charges that they violated immigration law. To make matters worse, there has been historically little oversight on many immigration detention facilities.

An exception applies to unaccompanied minors, who are entitled to higher standards of care. Unaccompanied minors should only be detained for a maximum of one month, though circumstances can justify extending the detention time. Minors may be released into a relative’s care or placed into group homes, foster care, or similar facilities.

How Can an Attorney Help?

When ICE detains someone you love, it can feel paralyzing. You may not know where to turn or what you can do to help. Depending on your status, you may worry that you, too, will end up in detention if you draw too much attention to yourself.

Hiring an immigration attorney can take the burden off your shoulders. You don’t have to figure everything out alone. We can help you find your loved one and make a plan to move forward. Reach out to speak to the immigration team at the Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh today.

Author Photo

Rosina Stambaugh

Rosina C. Stambaugh, founder of The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh in York, brings a wealth of expertise to immigration law. With a focus on removal defense, Ms. Stambaugh has successfully litigated cases across various Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, offering comprehensive support to clients facing diverse immigration challenges. She also represents individuals and families applying for affirmative benefits with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

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