Saturday, we went out to a picnic. Sunday, we were going to go to church. On Sunday morning around 8:30, they knocked on the door really hard. They called from outside: “Maria Lopez, this is immigration. We need to talk to you.” Maria didn’t have nothing to fear, so she went down. They asked, “Does your husband live here?”
—Vern, Guatemalan deportee1
Vern went downstairs and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at his door handcuffed him and put him in their car. His wife and two children were devastated as they watched Vern being taken away. Eight days later, Vern was deported to Guatemala. Maria had to figure out how to get by with her minimum-wage job. Vern had to learn to readjust to Guatemala City—which he had left eighteen years earlier.
There have been five million deportations from the United States since 1997—two and a half times the total of all deportations prior to 1997. Mass deportation has not affected all immigrants equally: the vast majority of deportees are Latin American and Caribbean men. Today, nearly 90 percent of deportees are men, and over 97 percent of deportees are Latin American or Caribbean, even though about half of all non-citizens are women and only 60 percent of noncitizens are from the Americas.2