Every day, the U.S. Border Patrol deports thousands of men, women, and children who crossed into the U.S. illegally, says NPR. Already this year, deportations have exceeded 400,000. The scope of the illegal immigration problem has so transformed border communities that even people who grew up there find their hometowns unrecognizable. NPR’s Claudio Sanchez describes Sonora a Mexican city across the border from Nogales, Az.
“This once-quaint tourist town looks and feels surreal,” says Sanchez. “Heavily armed soldiers and police cruisers line the main drag. They look ill at ease, waiting perhaps for their next encounter with drug smugglers who are intent on showing who is really in control. Sadly, my hometown has morphed into no man’s land.” People now call nearby hills and gullies “Cocaine Alley.” Today, no one dares open their doors, let alone help these people. Fear trumps charity. Sanchez saw three U.S. Border Patrol vans drive up and empty their human cargo: “Twenty-five to 30 people spill out of the vans and file through a gate, where Mexican government agents in orange windbreakers ‘welcome’ them back home.”