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

Support Films For Action

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information we need to help create a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

We receive no government or corporate funding and rely on our supporters to keep us going. Donate today.

Trending Today
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga22,997 views today ·
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque8,169 views today ·
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine3,248 views today ·
Reboot Your Life: 20 Mental Barriers You Should Let Go Of
Gilbert Ross2,404 views today ·
How Romanticism Ruined Love
5 min2,082 views today ·
Why People's Opinions of You Aren't Real
4 min1,892 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min1,772 views today ·
Gabor Mate: Toxic Culture - How Materialistic Society Makes Us Ill
30 min934 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick880 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
Some Deportees Return To Mexico But Their Stuff Stays In The U.S.