WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today the launch of ICE’s Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS), a public, Internet-based tool designed to assist family members, attorneys and other interested parties in locating detained aliens in ICE custody. The creation and implementation of the ODLS is a concrete example of ICE’s commitment to detention reform.

The ODLS is located on ICE’s public website, http://www.ice.gov, and provides users with information on the location of the detention facility where a particular individual is being held, a phone number to the facility and contact information for the ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations office in the region where the facility is located. A brochure explaining how to use the ODLS is also available on the website in the following languages: English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and Somali.

“The ODLS is an easy, accessible tool that allows family members and counsel to locate an individual in ICE custody in a matter of minutes,” said Phyllis Coven, acting director of ICE’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning. “ICE is making great strides in our effort to translate the principles of reform into innovative, practical and timely solutions.”

ODLS users will be able to locate detained aliens by two different search methods. First, users can search by entering an individual’s alien registration number, also known as their “A” number, and their country of birth. Users can also search by entering an individual’s first name, last name, country of birth and date of birth.

Since the ODLS will be available for use on ICE’s public website, the agency is committed to ensuring detainee privacy while making ODLS a useful tool for family members, attorneys and other related parties. Therefore, responses to ODLS queries are only generated if the data entered is an exact match of data in the system.

ICE will properly notify detained aliens that the accuracy of biographical information they provide to the agency will be very important in allowing their family members and counsel to locate them using the ODLS. Likewise, ODLS users will need to ensure that the information they are entering into the system (e.g.: proper spelling of a detained alien’s first and last name) is correct.

The ODLS will not provide any additional biographical information about an individual detainee other than what the user has already entered into the system. For instance, if a user searches by first name, last name and country of birth, the system will not provide the detainee’s “A” number and vice versa. ICE intentionally limits the availability of this data within the ODLS to ensure that users cannot phish the system for information.

On Aug. 6, 2009, ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton announced that the agency was undertaking sweeping reforms of the immigration detention system to improve medical and mental healthcare, conditions of confinement, fiscal prudence and ICE’s critical oversight of the system. ICE’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning (ODPP) was also created to August 2009 to spearhead the agency’s detention reform efforts.

The creation and activation of the ODLS is one of many concrete steps ICE is taking to implement these reforms. To learn more about ICE’s detention reform, please visit: http://www.ice.gov/dro/detention-reform/.  An ODLS brochure is available by visiting the following URL: http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/odls.htm


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Shah Peerally is an attorney licensed in California practicing immigration law and debt settlement. He has featured as an expert legal analyst for many TV networks such as NDTV, Times Now and Sitarree TV. Articles about Shah Peerally and his work have appeared on newspapers such as San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, US Fiji Times, Mauritius Le Quotidien, Movers & Shakers and other prominent international newspapers. His work has been commended by Congress women Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee. He has a weekly radio show on KLOK 1170AM and frequently participates in legal clinics in churches, temples and mosques. His law group, Shah Peerally Law Group, has represented clients all over the United States constantly dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Custom Enforcement(ICE) and CBP (Customs Border Patrol (CBP) under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This department was formerly known as the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS).