Sociologist Jeremy Slack on the Horrors that Await Immigrants Deported from the U.S.

Slack led a massive research effort to learn what happens to those whom immigration authorities deport and dump all along the Mexican border.

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As an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Arizona, Jeremy Slack began crossing the border into Mexico not to down shots of tequila, but to interview the displaced. Tall, blond, and at first speaking only high school Spanish, the Virginia transplant and aspiring ethnographer stood out mightily as he began interviews in soup kitchens and shelters—first in dusty Arizona border towns and later in cities along the Texas border, like Ciudad Juárez and Nuevo Laredo.

Slack found the borderlands both “fascinating” and “severely misunderstood.” As he continued his research in graduate school in Tucson, he sometimes served meals or cleaned in Mexico’s many shelters for displaced migrants, learning to fit in as a self-described “out-of-place gringo” who specialized in hot spots hard hit by cartel turf wars. He hung out with cocaine addicts on a highway overpass in Tijuana, trailed homeless deportees wandering plazas in Tamaulipas, and befriended a badly scarred man who provided horrific details of how he’d been tortured in a cartel’s rural conditioning camp.

Now an assistant professor of geography at the University of Texas at El Paso, Slack recently led a massive effort: 60 researchers who interviewed more than 1,100 people to learn what happens to those whom U.S. authorities deport and dump all along the Mexican border. He’s helped document how many are literally Deported to Death, the title of his 2019 book from the University of California Press.

Used with permission from The Texas Observer. Continue full article here…

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