Deported immigrants desperate and depressed in Nogales, Sonora

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(Source: 3TV /CBS 5) (Source: 3TV /CBS 5)
(24 HOURS ON THE BORDER) -

The line begins to form at 9 a.m. outside the soup kitchen, which is located just a stone’s throw south of the U.S. border with Mexico. The faces of the people lining the sidewalk tell a story, without the necessity of words. They wear depression and fear like clothes.

“I’m scared, real scared,” said Rigoberto Zuniga, who was dropped at the border by agents from the Department of Homeland Security one day before. The specifics of his story are unique to him, but the circumstances are similar to thousands of other immigrants who were deported from the United States last year.

Zuniga lived in Las Vegas with his wife and daughter. He worked as a maintenance man for a chain of fast food restaurants. But nine days ago, while driving to work, he says he was pulled over by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. He says they told him he was identified for deportation because of a drug conviction from 20 years ago.

Now he’s eating in a soup kitchen in a town he’s never visited in a country where has not lived for more than 30 years.

“It’s really hard because I don’t know nothing. I don’t know nobody here,” Zuniga said.

Every day, often twice a day, white buses chartered by the Department of Homeland Security drop immigrants off at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales. These are people like Zuniga, who have been targeted for deportation due to prior convictions, non-citizens who just finished prison sentences, and recent border-crossers who were caught in the desert by Border Patrol agents.

They are told to walk south, back across the border into Mexico, where they are processed by Mexican immigration authorities and given information about where they can find a safe place to sleep.

You can spot the recent deportees by looking for the clear plastic bags that DHS officials give them to hold their belongings. They also have no shoe laces when they leave custody. It’s a suicide prevention measure.

“You’ll see the depression. You’ll see the sadness. You’ll see the fear and uncertainty. They’re very vulnerable here,” said Father Sean Carroll, who runs the Kino Border Initiative, which owns the soup kitchen.

The Kino Border Initiative not only operates the soup kitchen, it also supplies people in need with clothing and hygiene kits, helps them obtain Mexican identification and directs them to agencies and organizations that can help them access money they may have in their U.S. bank accounts.

Carroll says his organization served some 8,000 migrants last year. Many of them were recently deported from the United States. Some of them are stuck in Nogales, waiting to cross into Arizona.

Carroll and the other employees and volunteers at KBI also offer the migrants spiritual support.

“We haven’t solved all of their problems. But, hopefully, we’ve solved some of them. But especially, they feel like they matter to us. They matter to God,” said Carroll.

What matters most to many of the recent deportees is that they are separated from their families, who remain in the United States.

Zuniga says he recently had to tell his daughter that she was not a U.S. citizen. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do now.

“I need my daughter. I need my wife. It’s real, real hard,” he said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Power of 2 Special Report

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

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