Deported and empty-handed
“How deportation robs immigrants of their money and their belongings,” a recent study by the organization No More Deaths, sheds light into the desperate realities of immigrants once they are deported.
According to the report, what happens when people are arrested is that they go from Border Patrol custody to U.S. Marshals to local jails, or to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but all their property, such as official documents, money and personal tokens stay in the United States.
The report is based on more than 14,000 cases out of Arizona.
Some of the consequences of not receiving their personal property cited in the report include: inability to access food, medical care and shelter; inability to pay for phone calls or access family numbers; police extortion and harassment, especially without ID.
“When I was detained, Border Patrol threw my necklaces and belt in the trash yelling ‘esto va a la basura.’ They put my cell phone and birth certificate in a bag and said they’d hold on to it for me. I asked for them from ICE when I was being deported and they told me, ‘You don’t have anything!’ I showed them a slip with the items listed and they said, ‘Border Patrol has that, not us,’ and told me there was nothing they could do,” declared Yolanda from Tijuana, Mexico, one of the immigrants featured in the report.
Back in 2011 No More Deaths published “A Culture of Cruelty” which documented more than 30,000 cases of abuse related to CBP custody and deportation practices. Among the findings 11,384 incidents of insufficient, inedible, or no food provided.
86 percent of people needing urgent medical care were deported without receiving any care. 2,926 incidents of failure to return personal belongings.
“The failure to return money and belongings is a dangerous humans rights violation that is not acceptable on any level,” concludes the report.