The mood was somber in Arizona as deportees filed up the stairs to the plane that would take them back to Guatemala. I remember a woman crossing herself as she looked up at the plane. Later I learned it was the first flight she’d ever taken.
Most of the migrants I talked to had crossed the border into the United States on foot. One woman told me of being abandoned by a ‘coyote’ during the crossing after she injured herself. She said she had wandered for two days before U.S. border agents found her, dehydrated and weak. She also told me how one of the agents had cleaned and bandaged her feet– a kindness that clearly moved her.
When the plane landed in Guatemala, the deportees let out a subdued cheer and smiled nervously. It was a journey that would reunite them with families, even if it meant the end of a dream to get ahead in the United States. For others, it was a setback. Several told me they would try to run the border again.