About 200,000 Mexicans were deported from the U.S. in 2018. This is much lower than the 600,000 deported in 2009 but it has been roughly at the same level since 2014. What do they face when returning?
Reception services for people deported from the United States have significantly improved since 2014. But most returnees still face three obstacles: lack of identification documents upon return, difficulty getting education credentials recognized, and difficulty fulfilling the requirements to enroll in existing government programs.
Mexico’s National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) receives deportees at one of 11 reception centers along the U.S.-Mexico border through its “We Are Mexican” (Somos Mexicanos) program. At these reception centers, people receive orientation, food, hygiene kits, medical attention, subsidized transportation assistance, referrals to local shelters, and certificates of repatriation (constancia de repatriación) that can in theory be used as a temporary form of identification to access some public services. In practice, the repatriation document is not recognized by most private or public institutions, effectively excluding returnees from many services during their first weeks back.
Employment in the formal sector in Mexico usually requires skill certifications that many returnees have difficulty obtaining. For those who wish to continue their education, revalidation of studies can take months or years.
Returnees cannot easily enroll in Mexico’s social programs, since most were not designed to consider Mexican citizens who have spent most of their lives abroad. Returnees do not meet requirements such as proof of residence (comprobante de domicilio) to register in federal health, education, and financial programs. Some jurisdictions have started adapting their programs to include this population. For instance, in 2017, Mexico City began to accept consular ID cards (matriculas consulares) and constancias de repatriación in lieu of proof of residence to qualify for unemployment benefits.