Still Moving: Children of Deportees
I went to Tijuana to photograph families that represent the border city’s multinational identity. The teenagers I met were born in the United States and are U.S. citizens, but their parents are not, and their lives are shaped by conflicting realities of family obligation and the opportunities of dual citizenship.
Dislocated and overwhelmed, these recent arrivals to Mexico are at risk for perpetrating or becoming victims of gang violence, sexual exploitation and crime. And there are many others like them: since 2010 more than 40% of all U.S. deportations have gone through the city.
Some of the children’s families were forced back to Mexico because their parents were deported. Others came to Tijuana because of family emergencies or other obligations and got stuck, with undocumented relatives unable to cross back.
“Generally these kids left everything behind, because from one day to the next it was an emergency situation,” says Adrián Flores Ledesma, representative for the state education system in Tijuana, “They left their clothes, their personal things, everything, and the next day they arrive in Tijuana. They get to a relative’s house, where they don’t fit, they don’t have a room, maybe they’re in the living room, no private bathroom. And all these things make them feel resentful of their parents, and think, why are they in Mexico, if they are Americans?"
There are about 9,300 students who came from the United States in the state of Baja California, according to statistics provided by state education authorities — a higher percentage of the student population than any other state in Mexico, and a testament to the long history of families coming and going across the border.
(Text by Alice Proujansky and Cora Currier. Published by the Intercept with support from the International Women's Media Foundation.)