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How to Find an Immigration Detainee

Locating a person who is being detained by United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcements (ICE) can be a nerve-racking task for family members awaiting a person's arrival into the United States. To help out during this stressful time, ICE provides an online detainee locator system that allows family members and friends to find out the location of the foreign national being detained.

In order to use the immigration detainee locator, it's important that you know certain facts about the detainee. Read on to learn more about the types of information you’ll need to provide, the process involved in using the detainee locator, and more.  

Currently In-Custody or Recently Released

The immigration detainee locator provided by ICE only contains information on detainees currently in ICE custody or detainees who have been released from custody within the last 60 days. If a detainee doesn't fall within these parameters, the online detainee locator system won't contain the detainee's name and information.

Age of the Detainee

Knowing the age of the detainee that you want to locate can be very important. The online detainee locator won't allow you to find a detainee who is under the age of 18. If you're interested in locating a detainee under the age of 18, contact your local ICE field office for more information on how to obtain the detainee's location.

Country of Birth

When using the immigration detainee locator, it is important that you know the country of birth for the detainee that you're looking for. In fact, the search engine will not allow you to run a search without this piece of information. The country of birth allows the online detainee locator to narrow down the search so that it can provide you with the most accurate information as possible.


One way to find a detainee through the immigration detainee locator is by the foreign nationals A-number. The alien registration number, or A-number, is assigned by the Department of Homeland Security. Generally, it is an "A" followed by eight numbers, however, recently-issued A-numbers consist of an "A" followed by nine digits. If an A-number is fewer than nine digits, you must enter leading zeros when using the online detainee locator system.

Biographical Information

If you do not have a detainee's A-number, it is possible to find a detainee through the immigration detainee locator with his or her first and last name. Since some first and last names may be very common, entering the detainee's date of birth can help narrow your search. It's important that you spell the detainee's name correctly or your search will not render a proper result.

Getting Legal Help

Immigration laws can be difficult to understand and are always subject to change. It’s important to stay up to date. If you or someone close to you has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it’s in your best interests to consult with an immigration attorney.

You can also visit the ICE website for the most up-to-date rules and regulations regarding detention. Visit FindLaw's sections under immigration laws to learn more about these topics.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.

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