Few people know gate ‘N’ at Mexico City’s airport but three times a week it is the arrival point for the Mexican immigrants deported by the United States. Waiting to meet them is Adan Jacome. Jacome, 45, goes to the terminal to offer the support of a group of immigrants also repatriated to Mexico, and who are the brains behind ‘Deportados Brand’, a small T-shirt business which aims to reunite families and help deported Mexicans start over. He is a much-needed helping hand for the many migrants who arrive in a practically foreign country but who must find work quickly.
Upon returning, “doors are closed to them, because people think they must have killed or robbed someone, or been on drugs,” said Jacome, who was deported to Mexico after living in Las Vegas for 16 years.
Arrests of undocumented migrants have surged since US President Donald Trump took office one year ago.
‘Deportados Brand’ was born by chance at the end of 2016, as Mexico waited for Trump to take office after his election win.
Struggling to find work, the five-strong group sold traditional sweets in the street, then went on to create distinctive T-shirts to identify themselves.
The first day they used them was January 20, 2017, the date of Trump’s inauguration.
People liked the shirts, said Gustavo Lavariega, another member of the group who was deported after 17 years in Washington state.
A few months later, fuelled by the desire to express their feelings using the shirts, the group was screen-printing garments to sell.
It was their way out of the uncertainty which mirrored that of the deported immigrants arriving at the airport.
“It’s a very hard assimilation process. First someone arrives in Mexico and says ‘I can’t believe it, why did they deport me?’ They didn’t want to come back, they had a well-paid job, and that’s where the anger comes from,” said Lavariego, 42.
Ana Laura Lopez, also 42, had a similar experience when she was deported from Chicago after 16 years.
She was heading to the airport to sort out her papers in Mexico when she was picked up by immigration agents.
Now, she cannot return to the US for 20 years.
For her, “everything changed” when she arrived in Mexico.
With the business going from strength to strength and winning fans on Facebook, her tone changes remembering the T-shirt design which best expresses her current feelings. — AFP