The first flight with Brazilian immigrants deported from the USA under the Joe Biden administration landed this Friday afternoon (21) at Belo Horizonte International Airport, in Confins, in the metropolitan region of the capital of Minas Gerais – the passengers came all the time handcuffed to their hands and feet.
The group that disembarked is made up of 30 people, according to immigrant reports. With this afternoon’s flight, the total number of Brazilians deported from the United States since October 26, 2019 is 1,225 – there have been 23 landings so far. With the flight this Friday, Biden reiterates the measure taken by Donald Trump.
Unlike most US chartered flights under the Trump administration, the plane that left Florence, Arizona, did not bring families with children and there was only one only woman.
So far all return flights to Brazil with undocumented migrants have arrived via Confins – Minas Gerais is one of the Brazilian states with the highest number of people trying to enter the United States irregularly via Mexico. Many immigrants are from the Governador Valadares region, but previous flights also brought in deportees who left Rondônia and Pará.
“It’s a dream that I still want to realize,” said Régis Paulo Pacheco, 31, one of the deportees. “I wanted to work, to save money. Now it’s been five years without being able to try to go back.”
A resident of São João do Manteninha, in the eastern region of Minas Gerais, where he worked in an underwear factory and left behind a seven-year-old daughter, Pacheco was arrested at the border on March 5.
From there, he was sent to a detention center in Arizona, where he remained until he boarded the plane home.
Unlike deportees who arrived in Brazil under the Trump administration, who complained about the food and treatment of immigration officials, Pacheco said the food was not bad and there had been no ill-treatment by officials in the detention center.
Like Pacheco, former taxi driver Elias Dorneles Silva, 51, from Belo Horizonte, only complained about the handcuffs. “It’s very bad. Getting here like this.” Silva was arrested on April 21, also crossing the Mexican border, but was first directed to San Diego and from there to Arizona. He said he would try to work in the US construction industry.
Freelance worker Dayane Oliveira, a resident of Betim, Greater Belo Horizonte, arrived at the airport early to wait for her brother, Alexandre Oliveira, 36, without even knowing if he would be on the flight. She says she spoke to him five days ago and they both imagined her return could be this Friday.
He did not come, however. Alexandre, also from São João de Manteninha, worked in the countryside. In Brazil, he left his wife and two children, aged 6 and 11. He was arrested at the border on March 10.
Like him, many Brazilians use the so-called coyote system, which they charge to try to make irregular crossing possible, often promising larger facilities than the Brazilians find when they’re already halfway there.