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ICE unveils detainee locator; Changes in hearings coming to GEO's Pearsall detention center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has unveiled its long-awaited online detainee locator.  The service makes it easier for families and advocates to find detainees in ICE's vast system of largely contracted private prisons and county jails.  Before the service, there was no centralized way for family members to determine if and where their loved ones were being detained by ICE. 

I tried the service out, and appears to be fairly workable.  However, the system may be complicated by the growing criminal prosecutions of migrant border-crossers under programs like Operation Streamline.  Because immigrants criminally prosecuted end up U.S. Marshals facilities awaiting trial, they don't end up in the ICE database until after they complete whatever sentence they may be given, a process that is often confusing the family members.  

In other ICE-related news, I received news over email last week that, starting today, immigration hearings at GEO's South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall will be heard at the detention center and will not be handled via televideo to the immigration court in San Antonio.  This should make it easier for detained immigrants to get a fair immigration hearing. However, for witnesses to hearings:

“When planning to observe an open hearing held within a detention facility, however, you should contact the detention facility in advance to learn of any security clearance requirements for entry to the building.”

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