Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Life after deportation

Twenty thousand Salvadorans were deported from the US last year. There are lots of stories about the life of undocumented migrants living in the US, but far fewer about life in El Salvador for someone expelled from many years of living in the US.

Josue Rojas at New American Media profiles several deportees in his article Deporting the American Dream:

Salvadoran deportees, or DPs, have a few things in common: they think in English, they’re young and they’re influential. They’re importers of the culture they carry inside — the niche, regional culture of the American city they grew up in. Be it New York talk, L.A. talk, N’awlins or D.C talk… they speak it. Culturally, they’re intimately in the know of something else that is arguably the coolest thing in the hemisphere: Americana.

In a country celebrated in Central America as one of the region’s greatest friends to the United States (and often paraded as a flagship for development) the DPs' influence spreads. They are simultaneously embraced and rejected. They’re the cool kids that society hates to love — Central America’s most beloved, betrayed bad-asses.

The seven deportees I spoke to were not all members of the internationally infamous MS-13 gang. Instead they were rappers and artists; they worked to remove tattoos and manned phone lines at call centers. They’re marginalized in a marginalized country –– foreign bodies among the harsh antibodies of a prejudiced, hyper-conservative society still dealing with the duality of right-wing conservative culture and a stubborn attempt at a socialist revolution. Coming in by the tens of thousands each year, El Salvador is sweating from the fever of their infection. They’re the ones who couldn’t make it on the other side, yet they’re successful here.

Once you’re deported, you don’t fall into a black hole. Your life continues, and with it your dreams. Disappeared from North America and rejected by the mainstream in El Salvador, DPs emerge with a hybrid culture of their own. They haven’t lost the "American dream" –- they’ve just been deported along with it.

Read the profiles here. The article includes videos of the interviews with the deportees. A related story here provides a reporter's description of a plane flight operated by the US carrying deported Salvadorans back to El Salvador.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Yo, that's some heavy stuff there. I'd like to thank you Tim for your blog, but in particular for this post as the issue it brings up is one that hits close to home for me and that up until now I had never seen any work/research on.

I'm on TPS right now, but know that without more of the numerous renewals that the program has already enjoyed over the years I could return to being under constant threat of deportation. So as a someone who has been here since about age 3, and therefore been raised and educated to be an American, I sometimes find myself wondering about just how out of place I would find myself were I to be forced to leave for El Salvador. It's really troubling to think that everything you've been taught to work for, and which I have been lucky enough up to this point to accomplish (3rd year at college), could be swept up from under you.

The only negative about the piece is that those profiled got involved in the drug game, so one could say that they 'deserved' their deportations. But people make mistakes, and that shouldn't cost them their lives. Besides, the narcotics problem in this country goes deeper than simple dealers. I'd very much like to hear the stories of other DPs out there.

Anonymous said...

The trends these Amercianized deportees is something they could use to try and take advantage of the gang problem. I know Salvadorans that are not from California hate the gang cholo culture. Especially if you're from New York, Boston, or Maimi; the Latin culture in these citie's barrios are completely different. In Little Havana, the Bronx, Spanish Harlem and Washington Heights.