Young Migrants’ Return to Mexico Is More ‘Exile’ Than Homecoming

At the core of that debate is a program, created by the Obama administration, that shields from deportation about 800,000 immigrants who came as children, most of them from Mexico. President Trump called last year for the end of the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and he ordered Congress to come up with an alternative solution for the program’s participants.

Should Congress fail to agree on a solution that would extend legal protections to those immigrants — as well as to another one million who were eligible for DACA but never signed up — they would face renewed threats of deportation.

Many of the young immigrants, a group broadly known as Dreamers, have vowed to stay. But the choice may not be theirs one day. And in Mexico, those who have already returned from the United States warn: Reintegration is rarely easy.

Young Migrants’ Return to Mexico Is More ‘Exile’ Than Homecoming
Young Migrants’ Return to Mexico Is More ‘Exile’ Than Homecoming

To be sure, voluntary returnees and deportees say that landing in Mexico can have upsides. They can walk the streets without fear of deportation. They can reconnect with long-lost relatives. They can afford college.

But the positive turns can be overwhelmed by the challenges.

Many arrive in a place they never knew as adults, or do not remember. Some may find themselves alone, their friends and relatives still living in the United States. Some may even wrestle with speaking Spanish.

They may struggle to continue their education, find jobs and make their experience in the United States count for something in Mexico.

Their return can carry a stigma: the shame of a deported criminal, or a sign of utter failure.

“The early days was just, like, culture shock, man,” said Mr. Aguilar, who had grown up in what he called “a small white Mormon town” in Utah.

After returning to Mexico, “I isolated myself in my room pretty much,” he said. “Isolation and depression, trying to figure out what was going on, how I ended up living in Mexico.”

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