If your relative has been detained by immigration authorities, it can be difficult to determine exactly where he or she is being held. If your relative is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) you can search the online detainee locator system, https://locator.ice.gov/odls/searchByName.do
If your relative is detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), you will not be able to rely on the online detainee locator system because only individuals in ICE custody appear in the system.
Even if your relative is detained by ICE, it may take some time for your relative to appear in the online detainee locator system. You may have to check the system frequently. If you are still unable to locate your relative, please contact us as we have years of experience locating persons held in immigration detention.
If you have located your relative, and are able to speak to him or her, you need to advise your relative NOT to sign for voluntary departure and to request to see an immigration judge. If your relative signs a request to voluntarily depart the U.S. in lieu of being placed in removal proceedings, he or she will be returned to his or her country. Please note that certain foreign nationals such as persons who entered on the Visa Waiver Program or persons who are already subject to an order of removal (including an expedited removal order) are not eligible to see an immigration judge unless they express a fear of returning to their own country.
After your relative is placed in removal proceedings, ICE will determine if the person is eligible for a bond or can be released on his or her own recognizance. If ICE determines your relative is not eligible for bond or sets an unreasonably high bond, the person generally may request redetermination of his or her custody status at a bond hearing before an immigration judge. Certain persons who are subject to mandatory detention or who are classified as an “arriving alien” may not seek redetermination of their custody status before an immigration judge. Arriving aliens may request release from custody by submitting a parole request to the local ICE Enforcement and Removal Office. Persons subject to mandatory detention may only seek release from immigration custody if they can prove to an immigration judge that the government is substantially unlikely to prove deportability.
If you need assistance in locating a relative or with the removal proceedings process, please contact us as soon as possible.