In 2011, Yolanda Varona was unexpectedly separated from her children at the end of a trip across the border. She was deported to Mexico.
As Varona found ways to connect with her children and worked toward being with them again, she helped other deported mothers to find services and resources. Varona became the Founder and Director of DREAMers Moms in Tijuana, Mexico, as many of the women, Varona worked with were mothers of children with US citizenship or qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), otherwise known as DREAMers.
In 2019, Mari McMenamin, Dana Schuerholz and I traveled to San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico to cover border stories and listened to Varona’s story of deportation and efforts to connect with her daughter.
Producers: Mari McMenamin, Laura Florez. Special thanks to Magdaleno Rose-Avila of Building Bridges for inspiring us to pick up this story and for connecting us to the speakers.
Photos: Dana Schuerholz, Mari McMenamin
Hector Barajas grew up in the Los Angeles as a lawful permanent resident noncitizen in the United States. In 1995, Barajas enlisted in the Army. During his service he won numerous awards including the Army Commendation Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal. He was honorably discharged in 2001.
In 2010, Barajas who was still a noncitizen was deported to Mexico after he had served a sentence for a crime in 2002. In Mexico, Barajas established the Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana to offer help to other veterans who’ve been deported.
With significant effort, Barajas was able to gain United States citizenship from Mexico. Today, Barajas still runs the Deported Veterans Support House while he works in the United States. Barajas is also featured in a documentary, Ready for War, which highlights the struggles of deported veterans. Barajas also heavily advocated for deported veterans, leading to the launch for the Biden administration’s Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative in 2021. The program works to make Veterans Administration benefits more accessible for non-US citizen veterans, and to help more deported veterans return to the US if they were deported. The program also works to lessen the number of deported veterans
KBCS’s Mari McMenamin, Dana Schuerholz and Yuko Kodama interviewed Hector Barajas at the Deported Veterans support house in Tijuana, Mexico in 2019.
Producers: Mari McMenamin, Dana Schuerholz, Jesse Callahan and Yuko Kodama. Special thanks to Magdaleno Rose-Avila for inspiring us to take on this story.
Photos: Dana Schuerholz
US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agents arrested 24 year old Medardo Cruz-Ventura on January 24th. Edgar Franks, Political Director of Familias Unidas por la Justicia describes how ICE activities impact Washington’s Skagit Valley where farmworkers make up 30% of the population.
Imagine being a US Citizen and being deported to a country where you don’t know anyone? This happened in the 1930’s here in America. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage, this series focuses on the history of immigration and repatriation of Mexican immigrants in the US. In this two-part series, KBCS’s Yuko Kodama recently spoke with Dr. Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, Professor at Seattle University, regarding the impact of the Repatriation program of the 1930’s.
Part 1 – KBCS’s Yuko Kodama and Dr. Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs discuss a program in the 1930’s which sent US citizens to Mexico against their will.
Part 2 – KBCS’s Yuko Kodama continues the discussion with Dr. Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs about the Repatriation program and its lasting impacts on the psyche of the Mexican American community.
Last year, the United States deported nearly 370,000 people. That’s nine times the number 20 years ago. Meanwhile, a recent study on trends in Mexico released by the Pew Research Center finds that 34% of its pool said they would like to migrate to the US. Over 70% said top concerns were with crime, corruption and drug cartel related violence. This week we look at the real life conditions that draw people from Mexico and other countries to the United States.
- Episode 1 & 2 – Former Federal Public Defender, Jay Stansell speaks about current policies toward immigration and the conditions that undocumented immigrants face in the US with KBCS Producer, Yuko Kodama
- Episode 3 – Masahiro Sugano is the Director of the documentary, “Cambodian Son”. He speaks with KBCS Producer, Yuko Kodama about the some Camdodian Americans who were deported to Cambodia from the US
- Episode 4 – Writer and activist, Dori Cahn speaks with KBCS’s Yuko Kodama about the conditions Cambodian American deportees to Cambodia are faced with when they are forced to build their lives in a home country they hardly know.