For several years, the rate of deportations has risen dramatically.
Despite the deliberately political manipulation of deportation statistics by both parties, the overall story is simple.
Deportation totals have consistently increased each year of Obama’s tenure in office, with the exception of last year, 2013 – which, in all likelihood, was due to the openly hostile yet civil protests against such government actions.
But removal from the U.S. is not simply a numbers game.
It’s a stark experience for those who are being deported.
As an immigration lawyer in San Diego, I get a close-up look at this process.
In an article entitled Mexicali Has Become Mexico’s City Of The Deported As The U.S. Dumps More People There, the Washington Post reported, for many Mexicans, it means being dropped off at Mexicali, a city which borders the Southern California city of Calexico.
The location represents a shift in U.S. deportation policy. Previously, larger Mexican cities like Tijuana, which borders California, and Ciudad Juarez, which borders Texas, were the main deportation drop-off points.
The Tijuana border has long been part of the San Diego immigration experience.
Mexicali is about the same distance away from San Diego as Los Angeles.
This switch of the government’s primary deportee drop-off location has not substantially modified the immigration role of San Diego.
Immigration issues remain part of our border issues conundrum.
Mexico is not a far-away place. Mexico is our neighbor.
The effects of drop-offs in Mexicali spill over into San Diego.
In his article written for the Washington Post, Nick Miroff notes, “changing U.S. immigration policies and, to an extent, the criminal reputations of Mexican drug cartels have made Mexicali the world’s biggest landing pad for sent-back immigrants. At least 113,539 have been “repatriated” to the city in the past two years, according to Mexican government statistics — more than any other place along the border.”
Some of these individuals, of course, have no family support network on either side of the border.
Others have family in the United States. They hope to re-enter the U.S. if and when the opportunity arises, sometimes without advance permission.
Even though the Mexican government offers them free or discounted bus tickets to their home towns in the country’s interior, many do not leave Mexicali.
The huge addition of immigrants has caused, as one might expect, various types of social and economic issues for Mexicali city officials, not the least of which are food, clothing, and shelter concerns.
As the Washington Post article explains, there are some church-run hotels and shelters which have stepped in to assist the displaced migrants. It’s not enough.
For some of those who have legalized family members in the U.S., there is yet another dynamic: the possibility of the U.S. citizen or permanent resident relatives moving to the border towns on the United States side.
In the case of Mexicali, such relatives sometimes move to nearby cities Calexico, El Centro, and San Diego.
By living closer, they can visit with their loved ones on the Mexican side more frequently. This enables them to help provide money and other necessities on a direct basis.
Whereas this may reduce the impact on the infrastructure of cities like Mexicali, it does not fully alleviate the adverse effects imposed by massive deportations.
These issues, of course, are simply part of the greater immigration landscape.
And until our nation’s deportation policies and family unity processes are revamped, moving drop-offs from one place to another will only change the names of border cities. The social and economic problems will remain alive and well.