Report finds more migrants are going missing in Mexico; many are locked in Mexican detention centers

By Kendal Blust
Published: Monday, May 16, 2022 - 8:20am

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Casa de la Misericordia
Kendal Blust/KJZZ
A mural at the Casa de la Misericordia shelter in Nogales shows people traveling from across Latin America and other parts of the world toward the United States.

An organization that helps families search for loved ones who have gone missing while migrating says nearly four times as many migrants were reported missing last year in Mexico than in 2020. A new report finds many were locked up in detention centers without access to communication.

In 2021, about 350 migrants were reported missing to the Jesuit Missing Migrant Search Program, according to a new report. While the humanitarian organization says there is no reliable way to know the real number of disappeared migrants, a dramatic increase in families seeking help to locate missing loved ones is telling.

Xamara Navarrete, a lawyer for the organization, says stigmatization and criminalization makes migrants vulnerable, making them easy targets for organized crime groups and pushing them to take dangerous routes to avoid U.S. and Mexican migration officials. Similar factors have led to growing number of migrants dying in the U.S. borderlands.

However, about 75% of migrants who reportedly went missing south of the border were eventually located in Mexican detention facilities, where they were being held without access to communication, sometimes for for weeks, leaving loved ones to worry about their fate.

Among those reported missing, more than 70% were from Central American countries. Another 22%  were from Mexico. Nearly all of them were making their way to the United States.

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