US-learned skills help deportees integrate back home

Deportations from the United States are a rising concern for thousands of illegal immigrants.

Some are choosing to return to their place of birth, which can be a challenging place for those alien to the culture.

As CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports, one group of deportees is putting their American-learned skills to use.

When Itzel Estevez was just eighteen-years-old, she was faced with a life-altering decision.

Having arrived undocumented in the United States as a child, she could remain in California and risk deportation at any time, or return to Mexico City.

She chose to leave, and arrived in a culture entirely alien to her.

“There was not a lot of help for people who were coming back. I tried to seek opportunities and it was really very difficult because you really can’t explain yourself,” Mexico-U.S. migrant Itzel Estevez said.

Yet today, she’s got a good job, using a skill she learned in the United States, which is highly desirable to Mexicans – her fluent English.

Founded six months ago by Mauricio Lopez, himself a returning migrant, the Dream Teach English Academy seeks to help an often marginalized community get back on their feet after returning to Mexico.

“When I came to Mexico, most of the job opportunities for deportees and returnees are call centers, which are usually long hours, long days, and the pay is not enough to support a family, or rent an apartment, or have that lifestyle the same as in the States,” Lopez said.

For Carlos Salgado, a student at the academy, it’s a program that not only helps his English skills, an important addition to a CV, but also helps them better understand U.S. culture.

“For me it has been very good, because we are taught by native speakers, who focus on understanding the dialect, with colloquial phrases, which you wouldn’t get in a traditional school,” Academy student Carlos Salgado said.

A step in the right direction, but according to another local deportee aid group, Mexican society still has a long way to go when it comes to integration.

“There’s a long way to go, and a lot of problems to solve. There are no social programs for social adaptation or reinsertion to help us rebuild our lives in this country. These days the deportee community is more vulnerable than ever when we return to Mexico,” Deportados Unidos En La Lucha’s Ana Laura Lopez said.

Exactly what Dream Teach was founded to change.

As the Dream Teach English Academy opens its doors for business, it hopes not only to turn a profit selling valuable language skills but also to improve the local perception of U.S. deportees in a city where they often feel alienated.