Karen Flores never gave up on finding her mother.
She and her father traveled to the Southern Arizona desert in search of Nancy Ganoza, hired attorneys, went to Mexico and followed any lead — no matter how small — hoping to find the 44-year-old mother of two who disappeared on her way to the United States from her native Peru.
When you have a missing loved one, you are not able to become the best version of yourself, said Flores. “It’s something that haunts you every day. You don’t know if they are dead or if they need your help.”
The Tucson-based Colibrí Center for Human Rights has more than 3,000 open cases of migrants who went missing along the border, primarily in Arizona but also in Texas.
While Border Patrol apprehensions are down, the reports to the center grow. Colibrí currently has nearly 300 families waiting to get a call back, including those looking for a loved one who was trying to get back to the U.S. after being deported, said the center’s executive director and co-founder Robin Reineke.
Identifying the missing migrants and connecting them with their families is a hard and time-consuming task and while there are only a few groups in the country that specialize in it, funding is increasingly challenging, Reineke said.
“We are trying to create a centralized system so families don’t feel they have to report to different places, and to help families reclaim their loved ones’ humanity, to stop the deep anguish families feel,” she said.
“We are working really hard to get support to continue this project,” she said, but “our runway is about nine months right now.”