The Missing Migrant Hotline attempts to assist people searching for their missing loved ones who have been disappeared by the deadly enforcement practices of the current U.S. immigration policy. A call comes in we can provide advice on how to search for someone who has gone missing while crossing the border.
For someone potentially lost in the desert now:
If you are still in contact with this person via telephone, advise them that the only way to trace their location exactly is for them to make a call to 9-11. Even then, it is not guaranteed that their location will be traced or a response will be mobilized. They should be advised that their call will alert enforcement agencies as well as the emergency response system.
As well as, or instead of, calling 9-11 they should quickly give you as much information as they can on the phone about their current location and everything they remember about getting there. Advise them to conserve the battery life in their phone carefully and only move from their location if they feel confident it will better their situation: for example to a traveled road or water source that they can see. Communicate immediately with Derechos Humanos and they will help contact the appropriate search teams.
For all other cases:
We ask that you read through the following information and call us afterwards if none of the advice below helps in your case or you have questions that are not addressed here.
In non-emergency situations, please call between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday.
How we work:
Derechos Humanos is a non-governmental, grassroots organization. As a trusted community resource, we began receiving calls in the late 90’s from family members looking for loved ones who went missing after crossing the border. As calls continue to pour in 15 years later, we are increasing our efforts and efficiency by collaborating closely with groups like No More Deaths, Águilas del Desierto, and the South Texas Human Rights Center. Additionally, in November, 2013 we initiated a 24-hour call system to address the urgency of many of the calls that we receive.
Besides providing an important resource for the community, our main goal is to stop the deaths!
Three types of cases we receive:
- Lost in detention: It is easy for family members to get lost in the prison-industrial complex yet often very difficult for families to locate them. To assist families in their search, we collaborate with consulates and also have a team of volunteers that call county jails, U.S. Marshals and ICE offices, detention centers, prisons and hospitals to locate missing migrants.
- Lost in the desert: When we receive a call that a person has been left behind by their group, No More Deaths volunteers work with a variety of groups along the border to mobilize volunteers and initiate search and rescue operations. With the consent of the family contacting us, attempts are also made to initiate searches by Police, BORSTAR (Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue), and Border Patrol. These efforts are often futile.
- Died while crossing: All too often, we receive calls that lead us to believe that a loved one has died while attempting to cross the border. In order to facilitate the process of remains identification, we have contacts with Medical Examiner’s offices across the border and collaborate with Colibrí Center at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office and in Texas with the South Texas Human Rights Center. The groups No More Deaths and Águilas del Desierto, when there is enough information, will sometimes mobilize search and recovery operations, in which a group of volunteers will search for the remains of a loved one.
Advice for someone looking for a missing migrant:
Again, if someone is currently in distress and in need of rescue in the desert, please contact Derechos Humanos at 520-770-1373, ext. 2 or firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
In 2014, No More Deaths and COMI (Centro de Orientación del Migrante) co-published Herramientas para Buscar a Migrantes Perdidos (Tools for Searching for a Missing Migrant). This is an in-depth guide that helps inform families and friends of the steps they can take to locate their loved ones. On the rest of this page, we provide brief advice for looking for someone in detention.
To locate someone who may be in detention:
In addition to reaching out to a group like Derechos Humanos for help locating someone in detention, there are a couple things you can do on your own.
1. Call the consulate of the country of origin of the missing person.
Their country of origin probably has more than one consulate in the US. Call the one closest to the location where they attempted to cross. The Mexican consulates in Arizona have a 24-hour hotline: 855-463-6395 (from U.S.); 001-520-623-7874 (de Mexico).
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 (parent, sibling, spouse, or child).
- Directory of border consulates of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua
2. Check online detainee locators.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
Tips for using the online locators:
- Put in just the first and last name (and for ICE, the country of origin) and leave the fields blank that are not required.
- 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.
It has been our experience that even after consulting the consulate and the online locators, we have been able to find missing persons in detention centers across the border by calling the U.S. Marshals or the detention centers directly. If you would like our assistance, please call us at 520-770-1373, ext. 2 or e-mail us at email@example.com. If you would like to do this on your own, consult the Herramientas de Búsqueda for a list of detention centers and their phone numbers:
To search for a minor:
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 minor they are looking for. They will receive a call back from the minor if they are in custody.
The full process is the following:
- All migrants under 18 will be eventually transferred from 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 to contact the parents.
- Even if the caller is a parent, the operator will NOT tell them if their child is in CBP custody or 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.