How do I locate a friend or loved one who’s been taken by ICE?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2019 | US Immigration Law

It has become an increasingly uncertain time for immigrants living in the United States. Undocumented immigrants – and even legal green card or visa holders – are at increased risk of sudden and unexpected removal from the country by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

As a loved one of someone who is picked up by ICE, you may wonder what power you have to help. In this post, we examine the first step in supporting an immigrant who’s been detained: finding them.

Online tracking

ICE maintains an online database of detained immigrants, which can be accessed by the general public. Using the ICE detainee locator, you can search for your loved one using one of two options:

  • A-Number (This stands for “alien registration number” and is located on the immigrant’s green card or immigrant visa.)
  • Country of birth


  • Full name (as it appears in ICE’s system)
  • Country of birth
  • Date of birth

This database is not updated as soon as new individuals are detained. Therefore, your loved one’s information may not appear in the system if they were detained recently. It will also never appear on this site if the detainee is a minor.

If you cannot find your loved one using the above method, then the process gets a bit more complicated.

Physical tracking

Your next step will be to go to an Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office in your area and ask about the whereabouts of your loved one. If your loved one is not in an ICE detention facility, they may be in a local jail or correctional facility. In this case, you’ll need to call around to such facilities near you.

If they are in an ICE detention facility, then you’ll want to try to contact your loved one’s deportation officer to find out more information. In this way, you may be able to speak to your loved one on the phone, visit them in person or send them necessary supplies. If you are able to talk to the deportation officer, it’s important to avoid discussing anything related to your loved one’s immigration status.

If your own immigration status is in question, you may be worried about contacting the deportation officer directly. You may also encounter difficulties tracking down the deportation officer – or getting them to talk to you. In such cases, an immigration attorney can be immensely helpful in getting you results while also protecting your anonymity.