Published On: Mon, May 28th, 2018

The Mexican government said it will help the deported, but are they really?

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The Mexican government declared it will help people who are deported, but they often are left to make it on their own.

Halfway through the flight, the officers took off Omar Blas Olvera’s handcuffs. He asked why. They had entered Mexican territory, an immigration agent told him. It was July 26, 2017. After they landed in Mexico City, he looked out the window and saw the airport’s signs in Spanish.

Just a few months earlier, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto welcomed 135 deported men and women at Mexico City’s airport. He touted Somos Mexicanos (We Are Mexican), a federal program to help repatriated nationals.

“You’re not alone. Don’t feel abandoned. The doors to this house will always be open,” Peña Nieto said then.

So when Blas arrived, at 30 years old, he had hope for starting a new life with his family in Mexico.

“When I got off the plane, I would have liked for someone to tell me, ‘We’re going to help you in any way we can, for you and your family to get together,’” he says.

It didn’t quite go the way he thought it would. There was someone from Somos Mexicanos at the airport to welcome him, but he was put into a system that was confusing to navigate and left him feeling helpless.

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Blas lives now in his hometown of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, in central Mexico. Mexico’s interior ministry reports that 166,986 Mexicans were repatriated from the US in 2017, the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Under Somos Mexicanos, Mexicans who are repatriated have a point of contact with federal immigration authorities who accompany them as they seek services from state or municipal programs, or the private sector. What support is available depends mostly on local budgets as well as on how much interest there is to help deported people in each place, says Dalia García Acoltzi, director of the Somos Mexicanos program at the National Migration Institute (INM), Mexico’s federal immigration agency. “Each state is completely different,” she says.

José Gerardo Morales Moncada, secretary of social and human development for the state of Guanajuato, says the help they offer is like a “tailor-made suit,” different for each person. Their program is called Guanajuato Sin Fronteras, or Guanajuato Without Borders.

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