LatinaLista — Disturbing news was reported out of Tijuana, Mexico recently.
In research conducted by Victor Clark-Alfaro, director of the Binational Center for Human Rights and a guest lecturer at San Diego State University, he and his students identify the fact that Mexico has its own “Minuteman” posse who are preying on the just-arrived migrants deported from the United States.
Mexican children detained by Border Patrol.
Clark-Alfaro identifies Mexico’s version of the Minuteman as the local police. In a veiled attempt to shake these migrants down for the little cash they have on them and to fill a daily quota imposed as part of their duties, the local police put on a public show of arresting these migrants for “not having identification” — all in the name of showing the public that they’re tough on crime.
Clark-Alfaro notes the irony that these same individuals are deported from one country for not having “their papers” and are arrested in their home country for not having “papers of identification.” It’s a lose-lose situation for these migrants.
When the migrants do produce deportation papers or papers issued by a local organization that helps newly returned migrants, they report that the local police tears them up and say they are not valid, making it much easier to arrest them.
By now, you’re probably wondering why should we care. After all, these are Mexican nationals returning to their native country and their country should be the ones protecting them.
And that’s true but it’s also true that our stepped-up deportations are contributing to an insecure border, that can’t help but spill back over onto the U.S. side and we have no one to blame but ourselves.
In their research, Clark-Alfaro and his students discovered that the number of deportees arriving in Tijuana had risen from 482 in 2007 to 695 when counted in May 2008. This number includes men, women and children.
Clark-Alfaro and his team identified three types of returning migrants. It is these migrants that underscore the serious flaws that exists in our immigration system:
1. The first type of migrants identified are the ones that have more than 40 years of US residency. Compared to Mexican standards, they are socially and culturally U.S. Americans. They speak English. While that should be considered an advantage, Clark-Alfaro points out that this is a big disadvantage to these migrants since they have spent so much of their lives in the U.S., they don’t know anyone in the city, their age makes it hard to find work and because they don’t have any legal forms like a driver’s license, voter’s card issued by Mexico they are basically “undocumented in their own country.”
2. The second type of migrant identified are the ones just released from prison who are hardcore tattoo covered, bald, English-speaking gang members. Yet, it’s their behavior and the code of conduct and language they use that makes them a particular threat to border security because they either rejoin gangs they belonged to in the United States or they start working for organized crime groups in the region.
3. The last group are the ones who were caught crossing over the border and don’t have much time vested in the U.S.
One other type of migrant that is deported and which Clark-Alfaro tells Latina Lista he has long heard rumors of but has no proof of it happening in Tijuana is the situation that children who are labeled “unaccompanied minors” are being returned to Mexico with no safeguards by the U.S. government as to their safety upon their return.
A separate source in Mexico tells Latina Lista that some border officials have confided that they are frustrated with U.S. deportation officials that allow unaccompanied children, all children under the age of 18 to be deported to Mexico in the middle of the night, rather than during the day. The problem with the night arrivals is that there is no staff on hand at the shelters who would be able to receive the children, and in essence the children are left to fend for themselves walking the streets at night by themselves — targets of perverts and anyone who would exploit these children.
Secondly, according to the same source, the U.S. policy in regard to unaccompanied minors doesn’t recognize an aunt or uncle as being a custodial adult and so the children are often separated from their one family member and are deported separately. What this means is that the child can end up in one city and the relative in the other.
Again, the child is alone and defenseless.
Mass deportations may seem like the solution to our illegal immigration dilemma but there is something wrong when we deport people who, for the most part, support and are supported by our economy, and are suddenly returned to areas where they have no support system and which can’t begin to absorb their presence.
In the process, we are destroying that economy with the purposeful dumping of people without regard to the effect on the local economy. Also, by deporting hardened gang members to areas that are ill-equipped to deal with them, we are not only contributing to the destabilization of those regions but it is only a matter of time that that violence will spill back across the border.
And finally, the deportation of children by themselves without assuring their is someone to meet them or they will be taken care of is a low point in how far our morality has fallen as a country.
Whenever critics of illegal immigration read posts such as these, they immediately throw out the retort “Are we supposed to take care of the world’s poor, suffering and orphans?”
The answer is we need look no farther than the symbol this country has built its global reputation on: The Statue of Liberty, where at the base of the statue we use to hold these words sacred and with pride:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
(If anyone would like the full report of Clark-Alfaro’s report (it’s in Spanish), please let me know and I’ll send it to you separately.)