By Nancy Landa
Over the past year, I have engaged in a constant reflection about my experience of deportation from the U.S. and what it has meant for me to rebuild my life in Mexico.
I have attempted to document not only the major challenges I encounter in the reinsertion process into Mexican society but also the opportunities that have presented themselves after surviving such a traumatic experience.
As part of this inquiry, I have wondered about the extent to which my experience resembles that of others that have also returned.
My ‘coming out’ as a deportee in Mexico has allowed me the opportunity to connect with others that have faced similar experiences, primarily through our joint participation in the forthcoming book Los Otros Dreamers (Jill Anderson and Nin Solis, 2014) which will feature our collective experiences of return through our first-person testimonios.
At the same time, I have realized that there is so much more that needs to be understood about our similar yet diverse experiences, especially within the academic sphere.
Consequently, during my postgraduate degree in Global Migration in London, I decided to focus my academic exploration on the return experience of young Mexican migrants whom increasingly are identified as DREAMers due to their political identity that has emerged in immigration advocacy efforts in the U.S. over the past decade.
This has been particularly the case for me. I was a DREAMer in the U.S. before my deportation, and I continue to claim this label as a way to identify myself within this particular population, especially in a Mexican context where our return and our challenges are less understood.
Other undocumented young adults may have been left out by the eligibility criteria set by the DREAM Act and its subsequent versions and may not subscribe to this label; nonetheless, they also share one thing in common with those like myself: they set roots in the U.S. as undocumented children and lived their formative years and established new lives in their new U.S home.
What then is their experience when they find themselves having to return, either voluntarily or involuntarily to Mexico after a significant time away?
This is a question my research project seeks to answer.
The inquiry stems from my own experience of return which seeks to further explore the diversity of experiences through analysis of a selection of published return narratives as well as in-depth interviews with returnees on how they have been navigating between cultures and countries.
I am currently in the phase of seeking participants who would like to share their stories and to contribute to this research project. I hope to be able to interview as many that would like to be involved.
If you or someone you know is interested in being engaged in this effort, I hope that we can begin this dialogue. Please click HERE for the Participant Information Sheet where you can find additional details about the research project and my contact information.
It is with much enthusiasm I embark in this research phase, as I anticipate I will learn much about myself as I will about the return experience of others.
Nancy Landa is a deported honors graduate and former student President of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Since her deportation in 2009, she has shared her story to highlight the need for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. You can follow Nancy on Facebook and Twitter or her blog at mundocitizen.com