Deportees returning to Mexico received free training to become English teachers

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A progressive initiative in Mexico City is giving American deportees the chance to earn English and teaching qualifications, with the aim of helping them rebuild their lives after being deported from their American homes.

A completely free program, the joint effort between the city government and the citizens’ council, offers a four- to six-week teacher training course, culminating in an official TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) exam, after whereby successful candidates will be qualified to teach in Mexican schools.

Tomas Perez grew up in Chicago and was kicked out 12 years ago.  He says a teaching program would have been helpful - he has completely lost his English.

Tomas Perez grew up in Chicago and was kicked out 12 years ago. He says a teaching program would have been helpful – he has completely lost his English.
(Alasdair Bavestock/Fox News)

“We have a massive influx of deportees into this country, a pool of talent that is almost entirely ignored by Mexican authorities,” said Luis Wertman, president of the Mexico City Citizens Council, which brought the idea to fruition. “Yet we have a deficit of more than 80,000 qualified English teachers in Mexico, and these people are perfect candidates to fill positions that we desperately need.”

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The first class of the program begins on Saturday, and although it has a capacity of 100 trainee teachers, so far only 25 places in the class have been filled. The Citizens’ Council publicized its strategy through advice kiosks at the city’s airport and four major bus terminals, as well as through its citizens’ helpline, but struggled to convince potential candidates of its advantages.

“It seems like a win-win situation and we’re trying to spread the word,” Wertman said, “but unfortunately the deportees are not a community that really trusts the government.”

Mexico City currently receives three flights of deportees from the United States per week, an average of 350 arrivals, 10% of whom choose to remain in the capital. Those who make up that 10% are typically young men for whom Mexico is a foreign country, with few cultural or family ties having been taken to the United States as young people. Finding themselves alone, without official papers and rejected by the inhabitants of the city, many find themselves homeless.

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“Deportees live extremely difficult lives,” said Marco Castillo, the founder of IIPSOCULTA, a humanitarian organization that works, among many other projects, to improve the lives of American deportees in Mexico.

“This city is very intense, competitive, angry and expensive. For someone who has been through the psychological stress of being deported from a country they call home, this may be too much.

Jesus Navarro left his home state of Nayarit with his parents when he was three years old and grew up in California. After being deported two years ago, he said his arrival in Mexico City was a very difficult time.

Marco Castillo is the founder of IIPSOCULTA, a humanitarian organization that works to improve the lives of American deportees in Mexico.

Marco Castillo is the founder of IIPSOCULTA, a humanitarian organization that works to improve the lives of American deportees in Mexico.
(Alasdair Baverstock/Fox News)

“I barely spoke Spanish, and nobody here was interested in knowing a Chicano (a slang term for Mexican-Americans),” he told Fox News outside the Teletech call center. in downtown Mexico City, where he and many other deportees found work. . “I was torn from my family and friends, it was a very depressing time.”

Tomas Perez, who grew up in Chicago, had a similar experience when he was kicked out 12 years ago. Now a butcher in a quiet area of ​​the capital, he said this new program for deportees would have been welcome when he arrived.

“I had no papers, nobody even wanted to give me a job sweeping a floor,” he told Fox News. “It’s good that this initiative helps the deportees, but it’s not very good for me. After living here for so long, I completely lost my English.

While many deportees find work in call centers where their English proficiency can be put to good use, pay is rarely higher than the daily minimum wage of $4.30, as employers take advantage of the legal status of deported.

Wertman said the English teacher training program aims to show respect to its candidates and provide them with an opportunity to develop a sense of self-worth that is rarely given to deportees.

“We call them returning Mexicans, not deportees, because we want them to see themselves as part of this country,” he told Fox News. “Not only are we aiming to train a new generation of English teachers who can benefit Mexican society, but we will provide our participants with all the legal help they need to get their Mexican documents in order.”

Despite his optimism, the president of the Citizens’ Council nevertheless feels concerned by the threats of mass deportation by the Trump administration.

“So far we haven’t seen an increase in the number of deportees arriving in Mexico City,” he said, “but we use a popular Mexican saying: we’re prepared for the worst, but hope for the best. “.

As word of the government’s initiative spreads, the Citizens’ Council hopes to include the deportees in the future.

“As a society, we feel to some degree that we’ve let these returning Mexicans down,” he told Fox News. “They left this country to seek a life elsewhere for a reason, and when they return they may feel rejected and without identity or value.

“But solidarity is a Mexican value,” he said with a benevolent smile, “and we must extend it to all members of our society.”