Deported from US: Facing the Journey Back Home

Collection with 13 media items created by Karim + Jenny

Guatemala 11 Sep 2014 00:00

Text by Jenny Gustafsson and Photos by Karim Mostafa

A crowd has gathered on the grass outside Guatemala City’s airport. They wait patiently, wander back and forth outside the gates. Suddenly a plane appears in the sky, sinks down behind the wall. This is what everyone has been waiting for – one of several daily flights arriving with men and women deported from the United States. “I’m here to meet my brother. He called us yesterday saying that he was coming back today,” says Azucely, a young woman with one child resting on her hip and another playing at her feet. Her brother had been in the US for five years, she says, when he got caught without papers. Azucely herself went through the same thing only a year before. “I had been in the US for nine years when I was deported, all the time without papers. I have three kids born over there. I left Guatemala when I was young, only 14. My mum took a bank loan to send me. She did the same with my brothers too.” Azucely relates a common narrative among young people from the region, who are migrating in ever-growing numbers. The Central American immigrant population in the U.S. has nearly tripled since the 1990s, and now makes up the fastest-growing segment of its Latino population. But the story for many ends suddenly. Over 2 million people have been deported during Obama’s years in power – more than any other period in the past. “Each week, between nine and 14 flights land here, full with people. Most come with nothing at all,” says Mario Hernández at Guatemala City’s airport.

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Guatemala Central America Guatemalans Airport Deportation Illegal Immi... Migrants United States Us American Population Guatemala City Youth Hispanic Migration Honduras San Pedro Sula

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Central America Immigrants 01
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
21 Aug 2014

A man and a boy waiting for a flight with deported migrants to land at the airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The country has among the highest homicide rates in the world – San Pedro Sula has topped the list several years in a row – and widespread poverty, currently at 65% of the population.

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Central America Immigrants 02
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

The young daughter of Azucely, who was deported in 2013, looks underneath the gate to the airport in Guatemala City. They are waiting outside for Azucely's brother, who was also deported and is arriving with the next flight.

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Central America Immigrants 03
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

Azucely and her youngest daughter waiting for Azucely's brother to arrive at the airport in Guatemala City. Their mother had taken bank loans to pay for the siblings' trip with coyotes, organised smugglers, to cross the border to the United States. But eventually, both of them were deported back to Guatemala.

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Central America Immigrants 04
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

Azucely from San Marcos, nearby Guatemala's border with Mexico, waiting for a flight with deported migrants arriving at the airport in Guatemala City. Every day, families gather outside to pick up returning relatives, as do taxis and buses bringing people back to rural parts of Guatemala where most migrants come from.

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Central America Immigrants 05
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

The mother of Azucely, who sees her son for the first time in five years. Many people in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, called the 'Northern Triangle', are separated from family members who have left in search of better opportunities and safety in the United States.

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Central America Immigrants 06
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
21 Aug 2014

Sister Valdete Wilemann and her colleagues, working at the non-civilian part of San Pedro Sula's airport where two daily flights land with deported migrants from the U.S.. Many have been caught at the border trying to enter, others have lived their entire lives in the country.

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Central America Immigrants 07
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
11 Sep 2014

A chartered flight with deported migrants lands at San Pedro Sula's airport. Lidia de Souza, who works with receiving the migrants, says the numbers today are 10 to 20 times higher than when she started working in the 1990s.

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Central America Immigrants 08
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
27 Aug 2014

Two security personnel waiting outside the airport in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras. Every day, one flight in the morning and one in the afternoon arrive with deported migrants from the U.S..

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Central America Immigrants 09
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
27 Aug 2014

Adrian Peña Carratero, a father of two, on the free bus taking arriving migrants from San Pedro Sula's airport to the bus station. He has everything in the U.S., he says, as he has lived there all his life.

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Central America Immigrants 11
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
22 Aug 2014

Julio Torres, who was born in the U.S., lived all his life undocumented. Three years ago, he was deported. He now works at a call center in San Pedro Sula, dubbed for several years in the row 'the most dangerous city in the world', with extremely high homicide rates. All across Central American cities, these call centers are set up, and young people deported from the U.S. are recruited straight from the airport – their language skills and intercultural backgrounds make them ideal employees.

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Central America Immigrants 12
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

Three friends who just arrived at the airport in Guatemala City. Most people arrive with nothing or very little – they carry plastic bags with whatever belongings they brought with them.

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Central America Immigrants 13
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
11 Sep 2014

Four men just arrived to Guatemala City on a flight from the U.S. are reflected in the airport window. They are given juice and tortillas, and the NGO Asociación de Apoyo Integral al Migrante help them with one phone call and advice – but once they step outside the airport gates they are on their own.

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Central America Immigrants 14
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
11 Sep 2014

A man walks out from Guatemala City's airport, carrying only a small bag in his hand. The number of Central American migrants arriving in the U.S. informally is on the rise, including that of unaccompanied children. The reasons for leaving the region are many – not least the high levels of violence and lack of social and economical security.