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Articles by Sam Quinones

In Tijuana, Mexicans Deported by U.S. Struggle to Find ‘Home’

Obama is reining in deportations, but for many in the border city it’s too late.

by Sam QuinonesNational Geographic

photography by Eros Hoagland

TIJUANA, Mexico—On the U.S. side of the border, an immigration officer unlocked a padlock on a metal door. On the other side, a Mexican officer unlocked another padlock. With that bit of antiquated protocol, the metal door opened, and Antonio Gomez stepped back into the country he'd fled as a boy.

It was the first time Gomez had been in Mexico in 34 years.

"I feel dizzy," he said later, sitting on a bench at Casa del Migrante, a shelter run by Roman Catholic priests atop one of Tijuana's many hills. "I can't believe this has happened to me."

Gomez had crossed the border illegally alone in 1980, at age nine. He slept under a freeway overpass when he was 12. Over the next few decades, he struggled. But by 43 he was a husband, father, and co-owner of a small construction company.

One Saturday night last year an agent from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement came to the apartment in Ontario, California, where Gomez and his family were watching TV. The agent ...