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Border officials are supposed to return personal belongings to people who are deported to Mexico but often don’t.
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When the U.S. Deports You — And Keeps All Your Stuff

Border officials are supposed to return personal belongings to people who are deported to Mexico but often don’t.

When migrants are deported from the United States to Mexico, they are typically separated from their personal belongings in the process. Under a 2016 agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, officials are supposed to take steps to reunite migrants with their possessions on the other side of the border. But in many cases, that’s not happening.

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An estimated 120,000 people are deported to Mexico from the U.S. each year without at least some of their most vital belongings, including cash, identification, and cell phones, according to the Migration Policy Institute. And advocates say it’s putting migrants at grave risk. Without basic necessities or the ability to contact their families, the newly deported face greater risk of harassment, extortion, kidnapping and sexual assault by organized crime, advocates say. The Marshall Project’s John Carlos Frey traveled to Nogales, Mexico, to report on this little-known threat facing migrants.