MEXICO CITY – A mix of Spanish and English, tattoos mingling with business suits, and Tex-Mex cuisine are features of what has become known as Little L.A., an enclave in Mexico City where thousands of Mexicans deported from the United States continue to pursue their “American Dream.”
Francisco Hernandez, 34, combines cutting hair at a busy barber shop in Mexico City’s Tabacalera neighborhood with a part-time gig at a call center where he can make the most of his English-language skills.
“If we were in the United States, we’d be working at a restaurant kitchen or in construction,” Francisco – Frank to his friends – told EFE as he cut a client’s hair. “Here, in Mexico, we get another opportunity, one better than what we had over there.”
Among the founders of Little L.A. is Israel Concha, leader of the NGO New Comienzos (Beginnings), which provides people deported from the US with free services that range from job-search assistance to psychological counseling to language certification.
The community includes a shelter for migrants and young homeless people.
Since 2015, New Comienzos has assisted some 5,000 people, including deportees and even some of the young undocumented migrants known as “Dreamers,” fearful of being deported after US President Donald Trump announced the end of the DACA program that protected them.
“It is a humanitarian crisis,” Concha said. “We don’t care about problems between countries and their laws. We care about the human right to be with our families.”
A total of 166,986 Mexicans were deported from the United States in 2017, according to Mexico’s National Migration Institute.