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How to help a family member or friend who’s been detained by ICE

When a loved one is missing, it can feel like a chunk of your heart is gone. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials picked up your family member or close friend, and you don’t know how to bring them back.

How can you help bring your loved one home?

Finding the detainee

If ICE detained your family member or friend a while ago, you might be able use ICE’s Online Detainee Locator System to find out where they are. The quickest way to search online for your loved one is to use their Alien Registration Number. You can find this number on many United States Citizenship and Immigration Services forms and paperwork.

If ICE has only recently detained your loved one, you may have to reach out to the Philadelphia ICE Field Office to find their location. ICE does not update the online locator system immediately after each detainment. There may also be a chance that your loved one is not in an ICE facility at all. If the field office tells you they do not have a record of your loved one, you can try calling local jails and prisons.

Helping the detainee

Once you are sure of where your loved one is, the next step would be to determine the status of their immigration case. This is difficult to do without an immigration attorney, because you may need to contact the deportation officer assigned to your loved one’s case. If you have contact with either the deportation officer or the court, they can help you find out whether or not your loved one has a bond.

If there is a bond and you are able to pay it, you may be able to pick up your loved one. There are steps to take if the bond is too high, but it involves scheduling hearings with an immigration judge.

The entire removal process can be confusing and frustrating when you’re trying to figure it out on your own. An immigration attorney can help you weed through the legal complications.

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