As the US continues to take a hardline approach to immigration policy, a group in Mexico City is helping recent deportees readapt to their new lives by providing mentorship and helping them find jobs.
Israel Concha, who lived in the US for 30 years before being deported in 2014, founded New Comienzos, or “New Beginnings,” a year later to help undocumented people who have returned to Mexico. The group connects deportees with potential employers, helps them obtain official documents like voting cards and offers Spanish language classes.
"Create a path for others who have to come back"
Concha recalled “tearing up” when he left the US for the last time. He was a member of the 'Dreamer' generation, immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children and grew up there, graduating from high school. Many of the Dreamers were protected by an Obama-era program shielding them from deportation, but President Donald Trump is trying to phase it out. Concha told the FRANCE 24 Observers that he wanted to show other deportees that opportunities are available for them in Mexico.
I’ve seen how people suffered because of a broken immigration system. I thought my life was over after getting deported. It was the worst time of my life. But then I realized that I could create a pathway for other people who have to come back.
We provide psychological assistance, food vouchers and Spanish classes, and we do events to connect people with companies. Every single day we pick up people who have just arrived at the airport or bus station and help them get to their final destination or get shelter for them.
There are many opportunities here, especially if you’re bilingual. We can help you get certified and become an English teacher. Right now the call center industry is the only industry that’s welcoming us, but we’re looking for other opportunities for bilinguals. Tech is opening up as well.
Mauricio Lopez, a former Dreamer who was deported with his mother in 2017, said returning to Mexico after 20 years in the US was a “shock.”
“I had to get used to the culture and speaking Spanish fluently. And we had to work right away,” he said. But he found that his knowledge of English could help: he found a job at a call center, and later as an English teacher for company employees. He went on to open his own school, Dream Teach, in Mexico City with the help of New Comienzos.
The only jobs we can get are in call centers, and most of us want different opportunities related to English.
I didn’t have the money to start up a school, and New Comienzos helped me find a coworking area and gave me mentorship. I started workshops to get people in the community to integrate in English. There are native speakers and people who want to learn and practice the language. People want to learn English to have better opportunities in the workplace or to be able to work in another country.
It’s a community that I’m able to relate to, and helping others is fulfilling.
Jesus Garcia Cervera, a recent deportee who now works at New Comienzos helping other deportees find jobs, said he wanted to help others who had been in the same situation as him.
Every time that you contact people that are in need and are looking for a job, that feeling is amazing. It’s not easy to get deported, and we’re giving hope to people who are coming back.
This story was written by Jenny Che.