'You’re just there, trapped': Why one Mexican woman decided to 'self-deport,' long before Trump

‘You’re just there, trapped’: Why one Mexican woman decided to ‘self-deport,’ long before Trump

(Alene Tchekmedyian / Los Angeles Times)

(Alene Tchekmedyian / Los Angeles Times)

Originally published by LA Times

Any time a cop passed her on the road, she began shaking. When police set up checkpoints in her neighborhood, her phone buzzed with warning text messages.

She worried about getting carded at bars. Boarding planes. Attending college. Anything that required an ID, which she didn’t have because she was in the country illegally.

For a decade, Paula Flores Colorado felt crippled by a gnawing fear that eventually became unbearable.

To find peace, she returned to Mexico in 2009.

Some of President Trump’s immigration advisors during and after his campaign, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and now-Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, called publicly for immigration enforcement strategies so tough that they encourage those in the country illegally to “self-deport.”

The idea of spurring immigrants to leave on their own volition by making life uncomfortable for them dates to at least the 1990s, when conservatives waged a bitter anti-illegal immigration campaign. The effort climaxed in 1994 when California voters approved Proposition 187, which aimed to deny services to those in the country illegally.

Courts struck down most of the measure’s provisions, and the notion of self-deportation quietly died away. It arose again in 2012, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney floated the idea when asked about illegal immigration.

“The answer is self-deportation,” Romney said. “Which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here, because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here.”


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