Months after deportation, they do what the Mexican government will not

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The sliding doors opened, and suddenly Roger Perez was back in Mexico.

Spanish boomed over the airport loudspeaker, and men swaggered past in dusty boots and cowboy hats.

Thanks to U.S. immigration authorities, Perez, 21, had been trapped on a plane for hours with his wrists and ankles shackled. Now, he was a free man. But as a deportee to a country he hadn’t seen since he left as a young child, the freedom felt scary, not sweet.

Trembling, Perez shook the hand of a Mexican government official, who explained how he could apply for unemployment benefits. Then he took a business card offered by Diego Maria. “We’re here to help you,” it read. “Together we’re stronger.”

“Hey, man,” Maria told him in English. “I was deported too.”

Every week, Maria, 36, and other migrants deported from the United States in recent months greet planeloads of people sent back to Mexico City. They call themselves Deportees United in the Fight.

They help new arrivals phone relatives, figure out how to catch a bus and register for the few government benefits available to former migrants. But mostly, they come to show the new deportees that they are not alone.

“Getting deported is the most traumatic experience of your life,” said Maria, who lived in the U.S. for 17 years before he was deported last summer.

Perez nodded nervously.

“My parents and siblings all live in North Carolina,” Perez said softly, his English inflected with a gentle Southern lilt. “It’s pretty rough.”

Read the entire article at http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-mexico-deportees-20170703-story.html