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Removed under new US asylum policy, deportees in Arizona contemplate next steps

Sent to the streets of Nogales, people showed us papers they signed which say they risk arrest if they try to cross into the U.S. again.
Woman Crying
Posted at 2:15 PM, Jun 21, 2024

Dozens of families with young children are routinely walked back to Mexico after getting off U.S. government buses in Nogales, Arizona.

The increase in deportations is due to President Joe Biden's new asylum policy.

With the change, some asylum seekers who cross the border illegally are being sent back to Mexico almost immediately.

An Arizona Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson said apprehensions have decreased by 25% since the policy was enacted in early June.

On the streets in Nogales, Arizona, there's a very real human story playing out. Many people have been seen crying, saying this was the end of the road for their American dreams.

Everything they own is in plastic bags. They lace back up their shoes since border guards take the shoelaces when they're arrested since they say they can be used as a weapon in custody.

They all are trying to figure out what to do now.

“Well, we arrived here," a migrant woman named Corina said, sitting on a bench with her daughter. "I will either take the discounted bus or stay in a shelter.”


While deportations are nothing new, Tucson-based border volunteers say these removals, with no chance of an asylum hearing, are a major U.S. policy shift.

“There’s credible fear," volunteer Carolina Pena said. "These people have credible fear and they’re not given an opportunity to prove that, and that to me is cruel.”

A migrant mother named Graciela showed Scripps News Tucson the deportation papers she signed. They say if she is caught back in America, she risks eight years in prison.

While the deportations rise, some shelters are seeing an increase in people showing up, needing help.

At a migrant shelter not too far from the port, Sister Lika Macias offers people from around the world a place to sleep and a haircut.

“We restore their dignity," she said. "They have a hope things will get better.”

Macias is creating a refuge for people who have been waiting months for an asylum appointment.

“It’s very complicated," Rudy, a migrant, said. "This is my second time in Mexico trying to get to the U.S."

Legal challenges to the executive order have been filed, but those could take months or years to play out.

This story was originally published by Adam Klepp at Scripps News Tucson.

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