Who they are
Madres y Familias Deportadas en Accion grew out of relationships created by people in the US who wanted to help families separated by deportation. The organization aims to encourage a more balanced narrative about Mexico’s migration and to reduce the stigma attached to those who have been deported. Maria Galletas, one of the founders, has worked in the Tijuana/San Diego border region as an activist for over thirty years. Her partner, Alex Gomez, has worked as a professor and border historian since 1994.
What they do
Madres y Familias Deportadas en Accion runs an information center that is located directly across from the San Ysidro Port of Entry. It is often the first location where migrants, asylum seekers, and the recently deported come in search of immediate support. Volunteers at the center assist migrants in their transition by connecting them with a grassroots network of services such as shelters, rehabilitation centers, and legal counseling. They also provide language classes to migrants who don’t speak Spanish to improve their opportunities for employment and integration into the community of Tijuana.
Why they do it
According to Maria Galletas, “when people are deported, the focus is often on what they might have done wrong and not on who and what they leave behind.” Most deportees are completely lost once US immigration officers remove them from the US since most are not from Tijuana. Without money or the ability to contact family, they often have few options for support in finding work or social services. As a political refugee, Alex Gomez also has a personal connection to the challenges that migrants face.
The group will spend a couple mornings serving breakfast at El Desayunador and potentially facilitating enrichment activities for the children who receive services there. The group will also volunteer at Casa Migrante, a shelter and support center for men. Additionally, students will spend time hearing the personal stories of women who have been helped by Madres Deportadas en Accion and from members of the Deported Veterans of America.