28 de noviembre de 2020
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Hispanic World

Deported Mexicans trust Biden: He owes us immigration reform

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, Oct 25 (efe-epa).- After living for 16 years in the United States and starting a family there, Ana Laura Lopez was deported to Mexico, Like so many other Mexicans, she sees the Nov. 3 presidential election in the US as a unique opportunity for Joe Biden to win and push forward with immigration reform that would allow her to get what she wants most: to return to the US and be with her children again.

Her story is a very common one. She fled poverty in Mexico at age 24, crossing into the US at Tijuana on her third try, and thanks to the support networks for migrants she settled in Chicago, where the pushed forward energetically to work and raise a family.

At age 40, with a stable job, having had children and completing school studies, she wanted to regularize her immigration status, but US authorities denied her request and she was deported to Mexico, where she had to start over from zero selling candies on the street.

"I feel betwixt and between, and it's a feeling that nobody's going to be able to get rid of for me," Ana Laura told EFE, adding that she founded the Deportees United in Struggle collective and hopes for "political change" in the country where she built her home.

She cannot hold back the tears when she thinks about the graduations and birthdays she hasn't been able to attend for her children Angel and Dani, who live with their father in Chicago, to where she wants to return.

She says she opposes "the ... insensitive and inhumane policies" of President Donald Trump, but she is very hopeful that "there will be immigration reform" that will facilitation "family reunification" if Biden wins the White House, despite the fact that the Democratic candidate was vice president under former President Barack Obama, whose administration deported three million undocumented migrants.

"We're all hoping for a change. If Biden gets in, he has a very big responsibility because Barack Obama failed us. He has this responsibility because if he gets in, I'm sure it will be because of the immigrant vote," she said in an interview with EFE at the silk-screen printing workshop she founded with her collective.

But Ana Laura warns that if Biden fails or goes back on his roadmap to help the 11 million undocumented migrants in the US, the fight will not end.

"Little by little there are going to be changes in the United States. It's necessary and inevitable," she said, because many voters have seen the "terrible" immigration policies pushed forward by the Trump administration or have "parents who have been deported."

Ben Moreno has a tough time speaking Spanish. Although he was born in the Mexican border state of Coahuila, his family moved to Dallas, Texas, seeking work when he was just three months old. At age 48, he was deported to Mexico because he did not have any immigration papers.

This head of a family who managed a company in Indianapolis, Indiana, didn't want to spend years locked up in a detention center trying to fight his way through the immigration bureaucracy, perhaps in vain, and so he agreed to be voluntarily deported.

He left his two children behind: Vanessa, an immigration attorney, and Bernabe, an engineering student.

Both are US citizens, and so they will be able to vote in the Nov. 3 election, and he is convinced that they will cast their ballots for Biden.

"He's a person who respects the public ... Donald Trump doesn't respect people or the White House or the United States. He said he loves the United States, but he doesn't love anything more than himself. People don't matter to him," he said.

"Biden is going to return this respect to us," Ben said, adding that despite not having US citizenship nobody can take from him his feeling of belonging in the US, the country in which he has spent almost his entire life.

Although he was deported in 2014 under the Obama administration, he does not harbor "any rancor or resentment" for the former president, he said, because he did things according to the law and without the "tone of racism" that Trump uses.

In addition, he said he is convinced that Biden will reestablish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for the so-called Dreamers, a temporary immigration protection that allows undocumented migrants brought into the country as children to study and work in the US, which is now mired in judicial wrangling in the US Supreme Court.

Returning to Mexico was not easy for Israel Concha, a 38-year-old Mexican who grew up in Texas.

After getting pulled over for speeding, he was arrested, locked up for two years in a detention center far from his newborn son and then deported to the border state of Tamaulipas, where he was kidnapped the first day he set foot in Mexico.

"The situation has changed a lot. I have relatives born in the US and even they are afraid of being deported. Our migrant families are fighting because the president is using our community as cannon fodder to build his wall and to be reelected," Concha said.

After his deportation, he founded the New Beginnings organization to help deported Mexicans and said that he receives calls from people telling him how the US migrant detention centers are "saturated," saying that they are "money machines" for the government.

Thus, he has no doubt that the better option on Nov. 3 is the Democratic Party, given that the Republicans "blocked" immigration reform in Congress, although he admitted that not everyone in the Mexican-American community sees things the same way.

"We're seeing that many deportees are leaning to the Democratic side, but the Mexican business community that has lived in the United States is going to Trump's side. They argue that he's made things very good in terms of business but at the same time they know what's happening in our community," he said.

Ultimately, the aim of the deportees is nothing other than to regain the freedom to reunite with their families. But not all will return to the US.

"I like Mexico, too. Here things are complicated and there's a lot to be done," said Ana Laura, who says that in her homeland she has been able to do what migrants do best: "Work."

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