But despite record deportations, many migrants at a shelter in Nogales, Mexico, now consider the US to be home.
Day and night, hundreds of Mexican migrants stream into this border city after being deported from the US amid record deportations taking place under the Obama administration.
At one migrant shelter in Nogales, workers encourage deportees to return home rather than attempt to cross into the US illegally again, through the treacherous desert that spans both sides of the border.
“There’s a federal program that will pay for your bus ticket so you can get back home,” Valente Camacho Terraza tells a group of migrants arriving at the center, which functions both as a shelter and transportation company.
But "home" for many of them is not the interior town from which they left, but cities in the US where they have worked for a decade or two, or sometimes more. Cuauhtémoc Bravo Guerrero, a migrant at the center who was recently deported from California, says he spent 30 years in the US. He has been at the shelter for days, unsure of his next move. “I want to go back to California,” he says.
Most of the migrants get a couple days of rest and nourishment before deciding whether to return to their states of origin or head back toward the international line. Without money or family ties in Nogales, many accept the Mexican government’s offer, Mr. Camacho says.
But in the past year, he has noticed that a lot of migrants tend to stay longer – some up to a month. He attributes that to the changing make-up of the migrant population.