Search-and-rescue emergencies on the US border

If someone you know is currently lost in the desert of Arizona or New Mexico, in need of rescue, and their most recent communication was in the last three days, call us at 520-585-5881 now. If we don’t answer, please email us and take the following steps.

If the person crossed the Mexican border into Texas, contact the South Texas Human Rights Center at 361-325-2555. Also take the following steps.

If the person crossed the Mexican border into California, call Águilas del Desierto at 760-521-3768. Also take the following steps.

Talk to the person

If you are still in contact with them, advise them that the only way for their location to be traced exactly, to increase the chances of rescue, is for them to make a call to 911. They need to understand that their call will alert law-enforcement agencies, including the Border Patrol, as well as the emergency-response system.  They do not need money in their phone account to call 911 and the call 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.

As well as (or instead of) having them call 911, they should quickly give you as much information as they can about their current location and everything they remember about getting there. They must carefully conserve their phone’s battery. They should only move from their location if they feel confident that it will better their situation: for example, to a traveled road or water source that they can see. If they have a smartphone, there are ways for them to send their location to you, such as with the app WhatsApp.

Once you’ve collected all the information, take the following steps to try to get the authorities to rescue this person.

Call the consulate

What country is the person from? Call the consulate of that country. You should call the office that’s closest to where the person is. You should be aware that the consulate will inform the Border Patrol of the situation.


The consulates of Mexico have a nationwide 24-hour hotline.  To call from within the US dial 855-463-6395.  To call from Mexico dial 001-520-623-7874.

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

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

California 213-252-1170
Texas 713-789-2762
El Salvador

Other consulates can be found through a Google search.

Call 911

To notify the emergency-response system of the United States about the situation and demand that they begin rescue operations for this person, dial 911.  Explain that you are calling about someone who is in distress in the wilderness and needs rescue and say as much as you know about where they are.  Tell them if the lost person has already called 911 or not.

Due to systemic racism, the police in the United States give little attention to cases of undocumented people lost in the wilderness. So you may be transferred to the US Border Patrol. The Border Patrol may be the agency most likely to send a rescue out, but even so, they often do nothing.  If you speak with a police officer or a Border Patrol agent, remember that you have the right to demand a rescue for this person and that it is these people’s job and responsibility to respond.  If you are being mistreated or ignored, say, “This is an emergency situation and this person’s life is in danger.” They do not have the right to ask any personal information about you, including your status or your location.

Other possibilities

Is it possible that this person is currently on the Mexican side of the border (they crossed back or have not crossed yet)?
Is it possible that this person has been apprehended and is in the detention system?

Follow the steps for searching for someone in detention.