A Michigan deportee adjusts to Mexico. ‘I don’t wish this on anybody’

What happens after deportation?

It’s a question on the minds of some 800,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers” who aren’t U.S. citizens but were raised in the country and may now face deportation as Congress debates their fate.

It’s reality for Maria Juarez, 23, who was raised in the U.S. ‒ the only country she knew ‒ but now finds herself in Mexico after her deportation in May.

Bridge Magazine was in Mexico last week along with its reporting partner, Detroit Public Television, to continue telling the story of this young woman and other deportees who find themselves strangers in lands that are now their home.

Related: Michigan ‘Dreamers’ feel whipsawed by Trump’s waffling on DACA (slideshow)

Juarez spent her life in the U.S. after her mother took her from Mexico to California when she was 8 months old. Though she had a Social Security card, paid taxes and married a U.S. citizen, Juarez was an undocumented immigrant and deported. The reason: Though she fit the profile of dreamers brought to the U.S. as children, she got in trouble as a juvenile in California for stealing two cars, making her ineligible for dreamer status.

But with more than 6,000 dreamers awaiting their legal fate in Michigan, Bridge wanted to see how young people like Maria Juarez, raised in the U.S., fare after deportation.

She now lives secluded in a relative’s small compound in Maravatio del Encinal, a dustbowl town in central Mexico that is beset by warring gang cartels.

“I don’t wish this on anybody,” she told Bridge.

“This is a very, very drastic change in my life. … People, food, water: Everything is completely different (here.) I’m afraid to go outside.”

Related: Michigan employers brace for challenges with end of DACA

Juarez left behind a son in Detroit, who celebrated his second birthday while she was gone, and a husband who is awaiting a stem cell transplant to fight his second bout with leukemia.

Roughly 800,000 U.S. young people have “Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals” status, a two-year renewable pass to work in the United States. But the program is set to expire in March unless Congress passes a new law.

Though Juarez isn’t a dreamer, her story is illustrative of the experience that might await young people like her. Juarez says her uprooted life remains a shock to her soul.  

“I worked hard in Detroit, so hard I barely saw my family,” Juarez said in an interview last week week in Salvatierra, a small city near her town about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City.

“Here, I’m nobody. I’m scared.”

Bridge Magazine is reporting on her life, and the lives of others, in Mexico, as well as the families she and others left behind in Michigan. Our report, along with a planned 30-minute special on Detroit Public Television, will air later this year.

Until then, get caught up on Maria’s story here:

Part One: Mom has sick husband, baby – and looming deportation to ‘home’ she’s never known

Part Two: One envelope holds her fate. Is she getting deported today?

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Tue, 10/03/2017 - 8:50am

Regarding the fact that she had a social security card, the question comes to mind as to what happens when the DACA status is revoked or expires? Does that person keep the social security number and is eligible to collect future benefits? Is the SS number put into a suspense status to be used if that person ever returns to the US? DACA did grant the right to work to those that did not enter the US legally. The SS paper says that non-imigrants can be given a SS number if they entered the US legally, as would be the case of those workers who come here as a seasonal worker. I believe there is a glaring loophole in the DACA regulation.

Bob Short
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 10:07am

This is so sad! She had been here since she was 8 months old through no fault of hers.
And let's not fall back on the limp crutch by saying "she was illegal!"
Most of our ancestors were illegal! If you don't believe that, ask the indigenous
nations how they feel about it!

Kevin Grand
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 1:28pm

I'm sorry, but was there some indigenous nations version of the USCIS that I missed reading about in history class?

Did THEY write immigration laws that I haven't read about either?

The people that we want to come to America follow the laws are already in place.

They don't cut in line and essentially tell those already waiting in line what to go and do with themselves.

We already have enough of a problem as it is with the damage to lives and property that illegal aliens have already caused in this country. Why add to it?

On a related note, I'd be curious to see when the focus is paid to the fact that Pres. B.O. had ABSOLUTELY no authority whatsoever when he created DACA all on his own?

He essentially lied to these illegal aliens about having any chance whatsoever of staying here.

Why that troubling fact isn't talked about more is anyone's guess.

Mrs A
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 8:00pm

Well, as long as YOUR family got here it's fine to start imposing rigidity, isn't it. I have rarely read a more cynical and mean-spirited post than yours. The whole point of DACA is to allow a legal workaround to be humane to human beings caught in an impossible trap. The only reason it was installed as an executive order (fully Constitutional BTW) was that the Republican congress refused to consider the matter, much less vote for it because the president was -- GASP! -- half black!

Candidly, when I look at the harm caused by "illegal" aliens and what is forced on us by demented Caucasian males with gun fetishes, there is simply no comparison.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 1:51pm

Nice try, Mrs. A., but my family came here legally and didn't just let themselves in because they felt that the laws didn't apply to them.

And I'm not sure where you learned American Civics at, but I'd recommend taking a refresher course. Specifically, exactly who has the authority to actually write immigration law.

Hint: it isn't the President.

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 4:19pm

Kevin, she was brought here at the ripe old age of 8 months. Does this not bother you in the slightest? The US is her home, the only one she has known. Seriously, do you think she deserved to be deported leaving behind a 2 year old and a husband with leukemia?

Kevin Grand
Sat, 10/07/2017 - 9:48am

AJ, we are still a nation of laws and we have them there for a reason.

I've already cited some of them below.

Attempting to interject emotion into the debate will not change any of those facts one iota.

Sun, 10/08/2017 - 12:18am


As long a someone only acts out of emotion they don't have to think, they don't have to consider any of the consequences of their actions, and the can be assure there will being an unending supply of those condition the can keep feeling smug about being companionate over.

It only when people take the time to think and listen that there is any hope for preventing such situations happening to others, yet unborn.

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 7:08pm

Is, "Most of our ancestors were illegal!", just a convenient throw away phrase to make your point and you really don't care if it's true or did you make an effort to find that out?

A point of information; my mother's parents came through Ellis Island, my fathers ancestors came to America before their was and Ellis Island, my wife's father came through Ellis Island, her mothers parent came through the Canadian system and she came through Detroit and only became a resident after the Federal government admitted her legally even though she was married to an American citizen. It surely isn't all immigrants, but I lean to my experience more likely to be representative than you statement. How did your ancestors enter and what was/is their status, were they as you claimed 'illegal'?

As your version of 'indigenous' nations, from all I have heard there were no natives to the northern or southern Americas, all indications are that Africa and possibly places in the Eurasian continent were where the original humans/native born were from and all others were populated by immigrants. That doesn't help your credibility when science and facts are not one of your considerations when making a political point. It would be more encouraging if you were asking for ideas on how to resolve the problem instead of making such claims.

Marilee Greene
Tue, 10/03/2017 - 11:39pm

One of the comments mentions that those wanting to come from Mexico should follow the law. If I was a Mexican citizen wanting to immigrate to the U.S., how long a procedure would it be? Is it doable in a realistic time frame? Are there quotas? Are the applicants vetted? Our neighbor to the south is a third world country or might as well be. They can see safety and opportunity from their border unlike other similar countries. Do we have a realistic set of laws for these struggling people who can literally walk here? I have no idea what the laws are but I would like to know.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 10/04/2017 - 2:22pm

Ms. Greene, America has always had quotas in one form or another over the course of our history for people from various countries. Those quotas depended on politics and world events at the time.

Regarding swinging the doors open and just letting people in, that is problematic on several fronts.

First, not all of the people wanting to come to America have the best of intentions. I can easily overwhelm this website by posting links about the crimes committed by illegal aliens from property crimes, assault, drug running and murder.

Second, no, we cannot properly vet all of the applicants coming to America, the government even acknowledged this not too long ago. And we've already seen the results when someone slips through the cracks (San Bernadino, Boston, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, etc.).


Third, it takes the pressure of of these failed countries to correct their underlying problems, thereby allowing them to continue indefinitely.

Why would a country like Mexico want to improve itself when the people most affected by its poor governing are leaving en masse?

And fourth, it has a negative effect on our economy. I'm not going to go into the direct entitlement argument because it can bog down the conversation too quickly. But it is a drain on resources when the government actually allocates money to assist with people coming here, instead of spending in on the areas it is supposed to be concentrating on. It also has a depressing effect on American Workers wages. The bridge even did a piece on this about Michigan Companies that cannot find seasonal workers. They use the tired argument that this is work that Americans won't do. But when you find out how much these very same companies are shelling out per person to bring in those workers, instead of putting all of that money into their paychecks, their arguments ring hollow.



Sun, 10/08/2017 - 1:44pm

Let the other two argue ("...give us your Tired...")
1. The point is Congress needs to fix the immigration system in this Great Country. Including Visa tracking (many "Tourists" fly in, overstay a Visa and disappear--a real immediate security problem). If they cannot, We need to elect ones that will.
2. We as the employers of Our Rep/Sen. need to demand -- they are there to put OUR priorities forward, (NOT their own) such as immigration. We need to say ENOUGH, fix it NOW as it has not been done as it should have and that IS causing MORE problems-those here illegally is and are a vexing problem, but it is a solvable problem -- We need to deport all gang and crime committing persons forthwith and have little delays in doing so.
3. THEN, create A level field where the history of immigration to the US honors (and yes dealing with the 10-20 million here already needs to be solved in it, but surely We can all agree We do not punish kids for the "crimes" of their Parents, do We....?)
4. No one likes standing in (immigration) line, but then to see someone jump in front of you can be downright infuriating, so Re read #1 above. Maybe prem, residence, and increased taxes -- we need to DETER walking across the border. And fix the drug laws, which is a failed 40 year "war" on ourselves.
5. Finally, everyone has an immigrants in their past (if they are not a Native Americans) so, lets think about when we RE-Read #1 above..