Life After Deportation

Documenting the consequences of U.S. deportation policy.

Rodrigo Ortega was deported to Mexico, and his American wife and children moved to Rosarito so the family could say together. He works 72-hours a week as a security guard and earns less than $1.50 an hour.

Roach fled the war-torn country of Nicaragua when he was a young child. He grew up in Los Angeles where he became a legal permanent resident. He was convicted of assault with a firearm and served out his criminal sentence. Instead of being released, he was deported to Nicaragua, where he faced grave danger given the political history of his family. He fled the country and now lives in Mexico with his American wife and children. He was deported for life, leaving behind his American citizen mother, siblings, nieces and nephews.

Leonel Calderon grew up in the U.S. and was deported last year. His American wife and children moved with him to Tijuana, Mexico to keep the family together. He works as a security guard in a shopping center housing American businesses like Wal-Mart and Applebee's where he earns $1.25 (USD) per hour. He barely makes enough for his family to eat. 

Jerry Lopez is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served in Operation Southern Watch in Iraq. He was a legal permanent resident and lived in the U.S. as long as he can remember. He was permanently deported to Mexico because he was convicted of alien smuggling. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "U.S. citizens (48%) comprised the greatest share of alien smuggling offenders charged" in 2010. The maximum prison sentence is ten years. Jerry served his sentence and was then banished from the U.S. forever. He is separated from his American citizen siblings and three American citizen children.

Gaby and Lolo are siblings. They always lived together, until last year when their father was deported to Mexico. Lolo decided to move to Mexico to be with his father, while Gaby decided to stay in California with her mother. Without Lolo, Gaby explains, "it’s so quiet. It feels like he’s gone. Well, he is gone, but like he wasn’t, like he didn’t exist."

Yesenia lived in Los Angeles since she was a child. She was deported nearly ten years ago. She is separated from her eleven-year-old son who lives in Los Angeles. She misses being a part of his daily life.

Hector Barajas is a veteran of the American army. He was deported to Mexico due to a conviction for discharging a firearm at a vehicle. Although he was sentence to three years in prison, which he served, the immigration consequences were much more severe -- he was permanently deported. He is separated from a seven-year-old American daughter and currently oversees Banished Veterans, an organization that provides advocacy, support, and shelter to other deported veterans.

Arturo grew up in the United States and has two American citizen daughters. He was deported for drug-related charges five years ago. Although his entire family is in the United States, he has been permanently deported with no hope of ever returning to the U.S. 

Hector Manuel Barrios is a veteran of the Vietnam war. He had a green card but was deported after being convicted of transporting marijuana. His children all reside in the United States, but he will never be allowed to return under the current law. View his interview here.