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According to the US Department of Homeland Security, almost 1.2 million illegal immigrants have been deported in 2007 by the US Custom and Border Protection and Border Patrol. The projection for the current year is an increase of around 50%.â?¨â?¨In 2008 there was a decline in 10% of the illegal immigrant population in the United States. This decline is driven by several different causes: an increase in the enforcement effort (since 2001 the number of Border Patrol agents has doubled from 9,000 to 18,000); the construction of more and more miles of the hi-tech fence that forces migrants to cross the border in more remote and dangerous places; the economic crisis causing higher unemployment rates.â?¨As a result of higher deportation rates coupled with higher risks in crossing the border, Mexican cities like Nogales-Sonora are witnessing an increase of population due to the tens of thousands people who, nonetheless, are awaiting another opportunity to enter the United States or a bus ticket back to their hometowns.â?¨Among them are minors under 18, and women, 13% of all cases, sometimes dropped off alone at night.
Most of them are people looking for more opportunities and a better life. Some are members of mixed status families, like Cesar, 45, who says he was taken to California when he was five and wants to go back to his family: "I was raised up in America, I have nothing here in Mexico, all my family is in California. I have two children in Iraq fighting for their country, which I believe is my country too".
Some others are simply looking for a job, like Roberto, 23, who was caught during an ICE raid on the chicken processing plant where he'd been working for three years for $6.75 per hour: "We just go there to work, and they think we are all criminals". He served a six-month sentence for identity theft and now that he's just been deported, he wants to go back to his three children in the United States.
Stories like this are common at the port of entry in Nogales, Mexico, where the rate of deportation is around 150-200 people per day. Farmers, construction workers, prisoners, nannies, children and families are dropped off in Mexico by the buses that beat mostly the night time. Infact, it is during the night that the highest number of arrivals is recorded.