Week 50 (Sept. 16- Sept. 22): Does “returned migrant” status have an expiration date?

I have often heard, mainly from policy makers, that you cannot be a returned migrant forever. There is some debate in Mexico as to where the line is drawn between deportee/returnee vs. citizen. Is it after a year, three years or maybe five? At what point are you integrated?

Although you can have theoretical discussions about integration/reintegration, which term you use and what type of factors facilitate or hinder either, I actually don’t care much about those discussions because often times they are so removed from our own migrant perceptions and experiences. What I care is when someone, particularly when it comes from public servants who design policies to assist deportees, say things like “after some time, you cannot be considered a returned migrant.” I hear that line quite often and I know where it comes from. It is designed to set an arbitrary line on eligibility criteria for receiving public assistance. And to some extent I get that; governments have limited resources and they must set priorities on who they consider to be in most need.

At the same time, I would prefer to hear honest discussions on why people like me don’t deserve assistance rather than placing the burden on me for my integration in this country. Because I know that as I hit the 10-year mark, I still don’t consider myself fully reintegrated. In my time in Mexico, I have never been assisted by any returned migrant program (thus my criticism of them) and I continue to see bureaucratic red tape across government agencies that make it difficult for returnees to access their rights in this country. Additionally, I am still affected by deportation and other issues that are more long-term such as eligibility to social welfare, including retirement benefits, which we’ll face as we reach old age. The length of time we were absent from our country of origin will catch up to us at some point.

So there is more to integration that meets the eye. My two cents… it’s not for anyone else to determine the conditions by which a deportee/returnee should be considered integrated or should be integrated. That process is different for everyone. Many of us don’t cease to be returned migrants because it’s convenient to some. I certainly continue to be a deportee, and I have forever been marked by that experience. I am not going to allow anyone to dismiss or diminish it in any way.

Week 51 (Sept. 9- Sept. 15): Why I have chosen English in my post-deportation journaling

A challenge in creating and maintaining a bilingual blog is that it makes it difficult to choose the language for writing a specific post. Most of what I have written in Mundo Citizen has been in English, with a bit of sprinkled Spanish text here and there. Interestingly, I sometimes have visitors from Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries which at times has motivated me to write more in Spanish, or at least to try to create bilingual posts that may be of interests to both Spanish and English speaking followers.

However, I am frequently pressed for time to write in general and more so to spend more the time for the translations of texts, which is why I have generally sided with choosing the language I will write a post based on theme or topic anticipating the type of followers that will be interested in what I have to say.

Mundo Citizen

My fellow Mexican compatriots might be a bit hurt if I tell them they have generally not been a priority in my writing. Then again, but I am quite certain any hurt caused by this doesn’t even compare to how I feel about the dismissive comments I received time after time on my post-deportation struggles, particularly on my US re-entry ban countdown I set up to bring visibility the time I have not been back stateside. Some of the recurring offender comments include:

“What’s the big deal? You are back your home country. This is your home.”

“Why do you want to go back to the country that doesn’t even want you?”

“Now that Trump is in office, you should just boycott the U.S. and travel somewhere else”

“Why don’t you go to Canada?”

And the list goes on and on with some variation of these.

I’m tired of answering and trying to make people understand the concept of home and the emotional displacement you undergo when you are FORCED to (as opposed to choosing to) leave any place that has become part of you. Who knows, perhaps if I had continued to live in the U.S. with the uphill battle that it is to be without legal status I may have decided to leave at one point, but I didn’t get to choose.

This is the thing that people seem to miss; there is an emotional component that is bigger than what is rational or practical about one’s own wants and desires on being part of something – of staying, of leaving. You are left with an unfillable void that it is hard to comprehend or relate unless you have experienced something like it. On top of that, particularly in Mexico, I constantly face a resistance from others to listen to this aspect of my story. Wanting to leave or to return to where home once was is interpreted as unpatriotic or as if I am rejecting my country of origin. At the same time, it has nothing to do with either.

That’s why I have chosen to keep my weekly post-deportation countdown journaling in English (at least for the time being). I’m done with explaining myself and wasting my time translating a message to an audience that has been unwilling to hear it for 9 years. English has become a language of comfort to this survivor of displacement. It is the language that makes me feel understood.

Week 52 (Sept. 2- Sept. 8): In a state of limbo

I thought the last year of my 10-year ban I could try to get more of my thoughts in writing, posting brief weekly life annotations. Consistency has certainly not been a strength of mine when it comes to blogging, as I generally attempt to wait for the big epiphanies or when I have some time aside to sit down to write elaborate posts. But I think that instead of worrying about coherent writing, I’ll try to capture a bit of the thoughts that do not make it past my head space. Perhaps mirroring a bit of my journal writing which I’m sometimes too afraid to display outside of my private notebooks.

Copy of Text on Rectangle iPhone Layout

Believe it or not, I am a private person. In real life, I navigate from being a social butterfly and easily talking to people to having long periods of social hibernation, staying at home with no energy nor desire to talk to people. But even in my most social moments, I shield many parts of me from people. Don’t get me wrong, I always display who I am. I don’t like pretentiousness. But I also don’t show important aspects of myself to friends, even the ones that get to know me better.

Privacy has been part of my post-deportation survival kit, doing what I can to say as little of who I am to people. Mainly because it has become exhausting to explain myself, from answering simple questions like “where you are from?”, to why I don’t have a romantic partner or why I have managed to be in a living situation where I am ready to leave at a moment’s notice. So I am one of those people you think you know intimately, but you also don’t really know much about.

I am now in a work environment where many people know about my public persona; they have either seen some media interview I have done or have read books my story is featured. There might be aspects of my life story that are no longer mine, but I am not my deportation story. There are many more facets about who I am that I think have more essence than the circumstances that many people have come to know about me. I do hope that one day I have more courage to talk about them.

In the meantime, Week 52 was about me thinking of my social life back in the city I have been trying to leave for a while. I have come to accept I am back in Tijuana, a city where I keep one foot out the door. Privacy is still a useful strategy.

I’m still unattached, not making long-term plans. However, living in limbo has now become the constant state of being, and Tijuana is most likely going to be the city where my 10-year countdown will reach zero. But than again, so much can happen in one year. That keeps me hopeful.