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We’re Getting More Questions About the ICE Detainee Locator System

Family and friends with missing relatives or loved ones detained at the U.S. border have been increasingly searching for information about how to locate someone they know. 

In the past two weeks, Documented has received 24 inquiries from individuals in search of missing loved ones. 

Members of our WhatsApp community platform have been sending us questions in Spanish, including: “How can I find out where my partner is? It’s been 10 days and they haven’t released her from immigration detention,” and “[My family member] and his friend surrendered themselves to immigration 11 days ago. They were separated into different rooms during the night, and they released his friend last Wednesday. But I haven’t heard anything from him.”

In most of these inquiries, the concerned people say they haven’t heard anything from their family members since ICE detained them. Some specify points of entry: “I am looking for a family member that was detained by CBP on the border of Tamaulipas,” one person inquired. Most of the inquiries have been from people in Venezuela and Cuba who are looking for their loved ones who have crossed or were planning to cross to the states.

Many people have also been reading an important guide that Rommel Ojeda, our community correspondent, wrote in September: “How to Use the ICE Detainee Locator System.” 

Documented’s Audience & Community Director, Nicolás Ríos, tells me the guide has been the best-performing article of the year on our website. The guide, which also has a Spanish version, is part of Documented’s toolkit for new immigrants. You can access or pass it along in English at newimmigrants.nyc, and in Spanish at nuevosinmigrantes.nyc.

There are two ways to use the ICE detainee locator system. The first is by entering someone’s Nationality and Alien Registration Number (A-Number), which is a 9-digit number assigned by USCIS to nonimmigrant individuals in the United States. Alternatively, you could enter a person’s name, last name, date of birth, and country of origin. People who have successfully located their loved ones have also shared tips about how to use the locator system.

  • If no information is returned for individuals who have two last names, add a hyphen between the last names. For example DOE SMITH should be entered as DOE-SMITH. This is key as system might not return any results if ICE inputted their names in a slightly different way than their actual last names.
  • Some people are not in U.S. custody, so the locator may not return any information for that reason.
  • The embassy of the person’s country in the U.S. can also help locate detainees whose information does not appear through the Detainee Locator System.

Have you received inquiries from clients in search of loved ones or relatives who were detained by ICE or CBP? Let us know at earlyarrival@documentedny.com


New York

Man pleads guilty to hate crime in death of Asian man: Jarrod Powell pleaded guilty in Yao Pan Ma’s death and will serve 22 years in prison. The attack happened in April 2021, amid a surge in hate crimes against Asians. — CNN

The other New York migrant crisis — African and Caribbean migrants have been largely overlooked: Every night, nearly 70 men, newly arrived migrants, sleep in the basement of Imam Omar Niass’ house — an example of how African migrants are also increasingly arriving in the city. — The New York Times

Adams says New York City doesn’t have ‘room’ to host more migrants: Mayor Eric Adams made his remarks on Sunday at a news conference during his trip to El Paso. He echoed the same thoughts for Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington. — The Guardian

Around the U.S. 

Three Central Floridians indicted for kidnapping immigrant worker: According to law enforcement, the victim was smuggled into the United States in 2021 and was being forced to work off the debt by doing construction work. — WFTV9

How restaurant workers unknowingly pay to keep their wages low: Restaurant workers — largely unbeknown to them — are helping to fund a nationwide lobbying campaign to keep their own wages from increasing. — The New York Times

Conservative group targets migrant cell phone data at NGOs, raising privacy concerns: As asylum seekers at Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley (and 30+ other locations) waited for court hearings, their cell phone data locations were being tracked. — Texas Public Radio 

Washington D.C.

DHS policy to protect migrant workers in labor investigations: Labor and rights advocates applauded the policy as it would enable migrant workers, who witness or are victims of labor violations, to apply for protection from deportation. — PBS

Democrats urge Biden not to “provide shelter” for former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro: The lawmakers called for a reassessment of Bolsonaro’s status in the U.S. and to revoke his visa if necessary. Bolsonaro went to Florida shortly before he left office and has been there since. — CNN

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