What to do if someone you know is missing.

Three Possible Scenarios.

1) Search & Rescue (person has been missing for 3 days or less);
2) Someone may be in Detention (person has been missing for less than a month);
3) Someone may have Died while Crossing. (You haven’t been able to locate the person for more than 30 days).

1) Search and Rescue Mission

If you’re still in phone contact with the person, you should

One: Tell them that the best chances of pinpointing their location and to increase their chances of rescue is for them to call 911. You should also advise the lost person that calling 911 will alert law enforcement agencies, including the Border Patrol, as well as the emergency-response system. The call to 911 is free and will go through even on a Mexican phone. They should repeat the call until they are able to connect to someone and until they are told that a rescue is being sent.

Two: Obtain as much information as you can from the person about their current location and everything that they can remember about getting there. Advise them to carefully conserve the battery life in their phone and to only move from their location if they know that it will better their situation; for example, walking to a traveled road or water source that they can see from their current location.

Lost on the U.S. side of the border: This is for someone you know who has gone missing and who you think is lost in the desert right now. Their most recent communication with you or someone else was made within the last three days.

    • If the person crossed the border into Arizona or California: Call 760-521-3768 to get help from Águilas del Desierto.

Other Search and Rescue Groups:

Ángeles Del Desierto (Searching California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas on both sides of the U.S./Mexico boundary)
Contact: Rafael Larraenza Hernandez
Phone: 619-773-3688
Email: rafaelangelesdeldesierto@yahoo.com
Website: https://losangelesdeldesierto.org/en/home/

Armadillos Busqueda y Rescate
We are a non-profit search and rescue organization founded for the purpose of locating missing persons in the deserts of Southern California and Arizona.
Contact: Angel Fallbrook (Spanish preferred)
Email: diegojulion34@gmail.com
Phone: (760) 304-2553
Website: https://armadillosbyr.org

Battalion Search and Rescue (Arizona)
Note: The Battalion is not an emergency response organization. We typically do not work individual cases but rather search high-traffic areas and established routes. Please call 911 for emergencies.
Contact: James Holeman
Mobile/WhatsApp: 928-699-9291

Parallelo 31 / Parallel 31 (Searching California, Arizona, & New Mexico)
Contact: Gerardo Campos
Email: Gerardo1114@gmail.com
Phone: (714) 277-6846

Lost on the Mexican side of the border
:  For someone lost or missing in Mexico see the information provided below.

For Mexican phone numbers, from the U.S. dial 01152 first; from Mexico, dial 01 before dialing the number.

El Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes is a group that assists families in their search for a migrant who has gone missing in Mexico. Their phone number is 55-55-27-54-23 and their email is desaparecidos@sjmmexico.org. This group is in communication with the network of migrant shelters throughout Mexico, and can conduct a search with them as well as with government authorities if you ask them to.

Many people begin crossing far south into Mexico may and have not yet crossed the US–Mexico border when they are in need of emergency assistance.  The Mexican government has a migrant-safety agency called Grupos Beta. Here are some phone numbers for their offices in Mexico. Call the office closest to where your loved one went missing, but if they don’t answer, try the others.

Tijuana, Baja California 664-682-3171
Mexicali, Baja California 685-554-2624
Sonoyta, Sonora 651-512-1520
Nogales, Sonora 631-312-6180
Agua Prieta, Sonora 663-338-1618
Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua 656-666-0889
Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua 656-612-7618
Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila 877-772-7524
Piedras Negras, Coahuila 878-782-8846
Matamoros, Tamaulipas 868-812-3468
Tenosique, Tabasco 934-342-0110
Tapachula, Chiapas 962-625-7986
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas 961-602-6111
Arriaga, Chiapas 966-662-2017
Ixtepec, Oaxaca 971-713-3047


In Mexico, the numbers to dial to reach the emergency services are 060, 065, 068, and 911.


2) Locating Someone Who May Be in Detention

Step One: Call the consulate of the country of origin of the missing person. 

Call the consulate that is located closest to the place where they attempted to cross.  If the consulate doesn’t answer or is unhelpful, call others.

You will need the full name and birth date of the missing person. Often the consulate will only provide information to an immediate family member such as a parent, sibling, spouse, or child. Click here for a Complete Directory of border consulates of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Mexico Consulates

Click here for the Nationwide 24-hour hotline.  From within the U.S. dial 855-463-6395.  From Mexico dial 001-520-623-7874.

Guatemala Consulates 

For Tucson, Arizona  520-798-2217 or 520-398-6912
For Phoenix, Arizona 602-200-3660
For California 213-365-9251
For McAllen, Texas 956-429-3413
For Houston, Texas 713-953-9531


Honduras Consulates

For California   213-995-6406
For McAllen, Texas   956-627-3172
For Houston, Texas   713-785-5932
For Dallas, Texas   972-986-5512 or 972-986-5513

The Dallas consulate is charged with looking into cases in Arizona.

Nicaragua Consulates

For California              213-252-1170
For Texas              713-789-2762


El Salvador Consulates

For Tucson, Arizona                      520-318-0410
For McAllen, Texas                      956-800-1363
For Houston, Texas                      346-571-5198
For California                      213-234-9200

Step Two:

You will need access to a computer and internet. Check these online detainee locators by clicking on the bolded links below:

1). Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

2). Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)

Instructions for using these online locators:

Type only the first and last name (and for ICE, also the country of origin) and leave the other fields blank that are not required. If your first attempt fails to locate the person using just their first and last name (and for ICE, the country of origin), only then should you try again filling in any known information for the other fields.

Two-part last names are usually connected with a hyphen (example: Morales-López) but try them with and without the hyphen, in reverse order, and with any common misspellings. This will help you find the person even if there was an error when the name was entered.

Next Steps:

It has been the experience of Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths immigrant advocates that even after consulting the consulate and using online locators and not meeting with success, missing persons have been found in detention centers across the border by calling 1), U.S. Marshals; 2), ICE offices, or 3), different detention centers directly.

U.S. Marshals: 

Call US Marshals and ask if your family member is in their custody. Remember that you have a right to know where your family member is, and that you do not need to respond to questions about your citizenship status or location.

For California: Dial 213-894-6820

For Phoenix, Arizona: Dial 602-382-8768 (Press 0)

For Tucson, Arizona: Dial 520-879-6900 (Press 0)

For Texas: Dial 713-718-4800

Click here for a complete list of U.S. Marshals Offices.


Call ICE to ask if your family member is in their custody. Again, remember that you have a right to know where your family member is, and that you do not have to answer questions about your citizenship status or location.

National ICE number: (888) 351-4024

For California: (213) 830-7911

For Arizona: (602) 766-7030

For Florence, Arizona: (520) 868-8383

For Eloy, Arizona: (520) 464-3000

For Dallas, Texas: (214) 424-7800

For Houston, Texas: (281) 774-4816

For El Paso, Texas: (915) 225-1901

For San Antonio, Texas: (210) 283-4750

 Missing Mothers & Children

If your loved one is a mother traveling with children through Texas, call the Karnes County Residential Center 830-254-2000.

Missing Minors (Persons Under 18 years of Age)

Call the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at 1-800-203-7001 seven days a week, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. E.S.T.  A family member must call this number and leave a message with the information about the person they are looking for.  You will receive a call back from the minor if they are in custody.

The full process is as follows:

    • All migrants under 18 will eventually be transferred from Customs Border Protection (CBP) holding to an undisclosed military base or to an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facility.
    • Parents are to call the hotline (1-800-203-7001) and give the operator the Name, DOB, COB of their child, and a phone number where the parents can be contacted.
    • Know that even if the caller is a parent, the operator will NOT tell them if their child is in CBP custody or if the child has been transferred to a military base or ORR facility.
    • If the child is in ORR custody, the operator will then pass that information along to the Case Manager.
    • ORR Case Managers must confirm the caller’s relationship with the child before contacting the parents.


3) Instructions for Locating Someone Who May Have Passed Away While Crossing:

It is very sad to say, but it is the experience of Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths workers who are familiar with the search process that if your loved one has been missing for more than one month, it is likely time to begin the process of searching for them through the forensics system. We are so sorry that your loved one is missing and you fear that they may have passed away. Here is information for two important organizations who help families search through the forensics system.

For Arizona, contact the Colibri Center for Human Rights.

Although focused in Arizona, the Colibri Center helps families search available forensic systems within the United States and across the border. Click on the above link or call 520-724-8644 and leave a message. They will get back to you to begin the process. Please be aware that Colibri may have a heavy caseload and that it may take up to 4 weeks for them to call you back, but they are very dedicated to their mission and will call you. 

For South Texas, contact the South Texas Human Rights Center .

To contact the offices of medical examiners directly:

For California:  San Diego County Medical Examiner (858) 694-2895

For Arizona: Pima County Medical Examiner (520) 724-8600

For El Paso: El Paso County Medical Examiner (915) 532-1447

For Laredo, Texas, Brooks County, and Falfurrias, Texas: Webb County Medical Examiner at (956) 722-7054 

For the most southerly point of Texas, the following two numbers are for possible river drowning deaths:

For McAllen, Texas: Medical Examiner: (956) 292-7014

For Brownsville, Texas: Medical Examiner (956) 389-1920

If your family member sadly does not appear in the system after a few weeks of searching, Derechos Humanos recommends beginning the process of DNA sampling. Colibri and the South Texas Human Rights Center may be able to help you in this process. You may also contact the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF). The EAAF may be especially helpful if close family members are living outside of the U.S. The EAAF takes DNA samples from people all over the world and is not connected to any government body. For the New York office call 718-237-2028.


Coalición de Derechos Humanos. (2019). How to Find a Missing Migrant. Retrieved from https://derechoshumanosaz.net/how-to-find-a-missing-migrant/

No More Deaths. (n.d.) Search-and-rescue missions on the U.S. border. Retrieved from http://forms.nomoredeaths.org/searching-for-someone-missing-at-the-border/search-and-rescue-emergencies-steps-to-take/