It’s been five years since…

Desplazar hacia abajo para español

It was five years ago that I wrote this letter addressed to Former President Obama, after he announced the Deferred for Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which leaves out millions of undocumented immigrants, including those of us who have been deported.

I just want to take the opportunity to remind my followers why this blog was started. Anything I could say about the demands I expressed on the letter would only be a regurgitation of what I have been saying about the deportee cause all along. You get tired of feeling that you don’t exist in the migrant rights conversation north of the border.


The closed door. Border Wall, Tijuana/San Diego (2017)

However, I have been encouraged by friends and colleagues I have met along the way to continue to tell my story which has found ways to spread in other platforms. My experience of deportation and a copy of the letter to Obama has been included in the book An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream by author and journalist Eileen Truax.

Thank you to those of you who have supported me along this journey. The struggle continues.

Link to letter: Dear Mr. President

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Leaving the “Dreamer” politics behind

A friend once asked me, “When will you stop being a deportee?”

Although I can’t recall what I answered, I still remember this question because it struck me as an odd one. Being a deportee is not a state of being or as fluid as my emotions. It is more like a permanent label that I have slip into as a result of political and legal systems. It is a fact that I was detained and expelled from a country and that will never be erased from my past; but I hope my deportee status earns me some karmic brownie points with the birth lottery system in my next life. But I digressed, going back to the question… If my existence in Mexico and my work around activism, migrant rights, and my current career path as a migration scholar were all propelled by a label that has become a part of my identity – can I live without it? Has my quest to dignify this stigmatized label constrained my existence post-deportation?

© Mundo Citizen


To complicate matters, I have attached another identifier to this label by calling myself a “deported Dreamer” as a way of acknowledging my own experience as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. and connecting it to my struggles here. It was also a strategic choice for me as I wanted to convey the message that I was still part of political movement in the U.S. propelled by (what I call) the “millennial Dreamers”. I mean, we are of the same kind. I have much in common with them, we all arrived as a children in the U.S. and growing up in the country that would later become home as undocumented immigrants. The main difference was that I was part of a generation who lived mostly in the shadows. We were also not as organized as the millennial Dreamers are today, and of course since 2009, I’m no longer in the U.S.

Being a Dreamer on the south side of the border (I thought) was part of extending the immigrant right’s struggle to Mexico, because being a returned migrant in Mexico is no walk in the park, as I have tried to illustrate in most of what I written here since I started blogging in 2012. My new found purpose was wrapped around a fight for recognition in a country that won’t have us back, that doesn’t want us back. Four years later, I find myself at a crossroads and I have made a decision others in U.S. Dreamer movement have made – to drop the label. I am no longer a Dreamer.

Continue reading “Leaving the “Dreamer” politics behind”

Dear Mr. President

Below is an electronic copy of letter I submitted to the White House upon hearing of the announcement on Deferred Action Policy.  Little did I know that this simple action would lead to a series of events that later inspired me to start this blog (I will talk about them in future entries).

June 17, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20500

RE:  Order to End Deportation of Young Undocumented Immigrants

Dear Mr. President:

I was moved to know that after 26 years of inertia, there is now in place a policy that will allow young undocumented immigrants to integrate themselves into the fabric of American society.  At the same time, it was hard for me to accept that this reform came almost three years too late for my brother and I, whom would have otherwise qualified.  Instead, we were deported at age 27 and 29, respectively.

Starting at the age of nine, I was part of a class of people that lived in the shadows afraid to be exposed due to our legal status.  Despite of these challenges, I excelled academically and graduated in the top three percent of my high school class. I went on to earn my B.S. degree.  I was an active participant in my community offering countless volunteer hours to further social causes.

Four years ago I thought your candidacy offered the hope we needed to change the direction of the country including its current immigration laws.  Although I could not vote for you, I volunteered on your campaign believing that reform could be possible.  The reality is that under your administration, deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants has increased and has contributed to more family separations than during the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency.  The failure to take action earlier has irreversibly impacted the lives of hundreds of immigrants that are thrown out of the U.S. on a daily basis.  I and my family are among that number.

I was forced out of a country I called home without the opportunity to collect my financial documents or a change of clothes that would have allowed me to sustain myself that first week in Tijuana. Yet I continue to live with limited professional prospects in my native country due to current U.S. policies.

I write to you now, to request three changes that would make a difference for people like me:

1. Increasing accountability of the Customs Enforcement Agency and their deportation procedures

2. Removing 10-year ban for deportees so they can successfully appeal their cases

3. Reforming the visa process so deportees who are working in their country of origin and are required to travel to the U.S. for business purposes are not ineligible for a visitor’s visa

What I really hope for is true immigration reform that provides the 12 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship.  In the meantime, implementing the above changes will make the current legal process more humane.

Most Respectfully,

Nancy Landa