With U.S. Border Patrol dropping off buses of deportees at the border, and nearly 400,000 people deported last year, one has to wonder, what happens to them?
In Mexicali, Mexico, just over the U.S.–Mexico border, sits Hotel Migrante, a hotel formerly called Hotel Centenario. Hotel Migrante is run by U.S.-based Border Angels, an immigrants rights group that provides the sole support.
The hotel gives the deported a place to eat and stay for a few days. Often, Border Patrol drop them off with nothing, and despite the majority of the deportees being young people, they are only allowed the clothes on their back. Those staying at the hotel are given a place to stay while they wait for money from their families so they can return to their home in Mexico, or simply until they cross again.
The hotel is run by Border Angels and a cooperative of deportees who cook the food and work on fixing the building. Border Angels and the hotel collective initially agreed to pay the building’s landlord $900 (11,000 pesos) a month, but they are already six months behind. Each day, the cooperative members travel just one block to the “garita” or line for legal entry into the U.S., and ask for money for the hotel. The members are allowed to keep half of what they make while most of the rest goes towards food for the hotel.
Cooperative member Benjamin Campista can’t help but be emotional about the unfairness of how callously people are tossed out of the U.S..
“We’re human beings!” he says. “We’re just going north to try to work. Why should we die for this? Our governments should end these violations of human rights. Then our hotel wouldn’t even be necessary.”