Some Deportees Return To Mexico But Their Stuff Stays In The U.S.
Some Deportees Return To Mexico But Their Stuff Stays In The U.S.
By TED ROBBINS / npr.org
Dec 14, 2014

Derek Lucas Reyes, 20, went from being undocumented in the U.S. to undocumented in his native Mexico.

He sits at a table after breakfast in a shelter filled with people recently deported from the U.S. to Nogales, Sonora. At his feet is a paper shopping bag the Department of Homeland Security gave him for his belongings. Inside the bag: his deportation paperwork, a toothbrush, toothpaste and some other necessities he got from Mexican aid workers.

Lucas Reyes just finished serving a 30-day federal sentence for illegal crossing. When he was caught by the Border Patrol in the Arizona desert, he says, he had a backpack of essentials.

"I had an ID, money and a cellphone that I didn't get back. In that phone were phone numbers for my family who could've given me shelter. Now I have nothing — no money and no way to contact people I know," he says.

report released Wednesday by the humanitarian group No More Deaths says it's not an unusual situation. The U.S. government is deporting thousands of people back to Mexico without their belongings, and according to the report, they're being sent back without money or identification cards.

"It's every day," says David Hill, co-author of the report. It's based on more than 14,000 cases out of Arizona and echoes similar findings by University of Arizona researchers borderwide.

Roughly one-third of people deported to Mexico were missing something. Here's how it seems to happen: When people are arrested, they go from Border Patrol custody to U.S. Marshals to local jails or to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their property stays behind.

"It doesn't get transferred to where it needs to be for the person to receive it upon deportation and it gets destroyed after 30 days — declared abandoned and destroyed," Hill says.

Under the U.S. Constitution, property should be held only if it's evidence in a crime or was actually used to commit a crime — neither of which seems to be the case here. The Department of Homeland Security oversees both ICE and Customs and Border Protection. In an email, DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron writes the agency has standards to ensure detainees' property is safeguarded and returned when they are released or deported. "Any allegation of missing property will be thoroughly investigated," the email says.

Among the most problematic charges are missing IDs and missing money. Hill says when people do get their money back, it's often in a form utterly useless in Mexico.

"We're talking about checks that are drawn on U.S. banks and cannot be deposited in Mexican banks, whether you have an account or not, whether you have an ID or not," Hill says.

Lucas Reyes has no money or ID, so he's worried about traveling 2,000 miles to his home in the southern Mexican state of Quintana Roo, next to Central America.

"Mexican authorities could think I'm illegally in the country. I could be kidnapped because people might assume I'm not from Mexico," he says.

Among other recommendations, the No More Deaths report calls for DHS to work harder to keep people and their property together — and to return money in cash.

0.0 ·
0
Featured Pay Per View Films
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min
Within Reach (2013)
87 min
The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min
Trending Today
Why Does Our Culture Focus So Much on Childbirth and So Little on The Time After?
Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett7,956 views today ·
Born Sexy Yesterday: Another Gendered Hollywood Movie Trope That Needs to Die
18 min3,311 views today ·
Through Abdullah's Eyes (2017)
42 min1,674 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min1,041 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick585 views today ·
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad562 views today ·
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley499 views today ·
Predatory Romance in Harrison Ford Movies
17 min488 views today ·
Whose Consumption Is Killing the planet?
Ragina Johnson and Michael Ware338 views today ·
Load More


Love Films For Action? 

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information and perspectives essential to creating a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

If you feel like you get some value from this library, consider making a donation today. Every little bit helps.

Join us on Facebook
Some Deportees Return To Mexico But Their Stuff Stays In The U.S.