Facing deportation or returning to Honduras
What you need to know
Preparing to return to Honduras
You and your family may have to return to Honduras, either voluntarily or due to deportation. If you face this possibility, you should plan ahead to make the process as simple and safe as possible for you and your family.
Breathe. Know that your family and community are holding you in their thoughts and prayers and it is your own inner strength that will get you through this difficult transition. Take good care.
Before you leave the U.S.
If you have time:
1. Contact the Honduran Consulate at one of these locations: https://embassy-finder.com/honduras_in_usa to get passports for you and your family and other information for reentry.
2. Sign and give a Power of Attorney to someone you trust in the U.S. so that this person (your representative) can take care of your financial affairs after you leave.
3. Take care of your finances. Sell or transfer your real estate. Use banks to transfer funds from the U.S. to Honduras.
4. Make arrangements for where you will go in Honduras. Let your representative know how to contact you there.
5. Complete your family preparedness plan http://coloradoimmigrant.org/preparados. Tell your Power of Attorney where it is. Keep all your documents safe.
6. Avoid notarios!
7. The length of time a U.S. citizen may stay in Honduras is controlled by Honduran immigration authorities. U.S. citizen children of Honduran parents can be authorized an extension of stay. Contact the Honduran immigration authority for further information. Minor U.S. citizen children traveling to Honduras should have a U.S. passport and a notarized consent form from the other parent or legal guardian permitting their travel.
8. Read the consulate website so you know what documents to bring.
9. Collect other documents for you and all children, such as school records and/or diplomas (notarized by school registrar), immunization records, and U.S. birth certificates.
10. Collect medical records; medications; marriage, divorce, and/or death certificates for every family member.
11. If family members travel separately, make sure that you sign an authorization letter for the adult caregiver who will be travelling with your minor children.
12. If a child will remain in the U.S. (even for a short time) in the care of a non-parent, sign a Power of Attorney authorizing the caregiver to care for your child.
Tip: Two last names (father’s last name, mother’s last name) may be required on all official documents. Be consistent in providing names.
Tip: Get more than one original birth certificate for each child because you may need them.
Warning: Keep in mind buying fake Honduran birth certificates can jeopardize your child’s dual citizenship.
Consider using the emergency notification app called Notifica to keep your family informed and aware. Many people use WhatsApp to communicate internationally (you need Wifi to use it).
- While in GEO ICE Processing Center in Aurora, Colorado:
- Family/friends may visit you if they have a valid passport or unmarked license. They should call GEO (303-361-6612) to get your visiting days and hours and instructions for visiting.
- Family/friends can put money on your phone account at www.talton.com or 1-866-348-6231 using the detainee’s A#.
- Leaving GEO in Aurora, Colorado:
- You have the right to retrieve any clothing or possessions that you entered GEO with, such as your wallet, credit cards, and phone. Family/friends can also bring you “one of everything,” i.e. one pair of pants, underwear, bra, socks, shoes, one short-sleeve shirt, one long-sleeve shirt, coat, gloves, and hat.
- If you have medicine approved and given by a GEO doctor, you can take it with you. This includes insulin and inhalers. If you can bring a written prescription from a doctor, that can be helpful.
- If you can bring a credit card or between $200 to $500 in small bills, it will be helpful. Put the money in different pockets on your person, not in your bag. If you have money on account from the commissary, phone, or work, you will be given up to $500 in cash. If you have more than $500, you will receive a check, which can be hard to cash later.
- Detainees are not given much advance notice of their departure date to avoid “incidents” during transport.
NOTE: This is how it is supposed to happen, but be prepared that you may not be able to bring all of these things.
What to bring with you
The following items can often be brought by family/friends to GEO. They must bring a photo ID to drop off items:
- Phone numbers for friends or family, both in Honduras and in the U.S. (You should memorize them before leaving the U.S.).
- Phone card, phone charger, and a backup phone battery.
- Have an address in Honduras. Many forms and job applications often ask for an address. Get an address of a family member that you can use.
- Medications and written prescriptions in your name, such as insulin; what you need to keep it cool; inhalers. If you are diabetic, you may be able to bring a PowerBar or something similar.
- Driver’s license or ID from any Honduran city or institution, like a voting card.
What to expect from ICE transport
- If you have an ankle monitor, you may have to get it removed prior to departure.
- You may be handcuffed and shackled at the ankles during transit.
- Your possessions may not be intact or returned to you at all.
- You may travel by bus to Florence, Arizona or another location in the U.S. and then be put on a plane to San Pedro Sula.
- You may experience dehumanizing behavior from ICE officials, if you can remember their name or can get their badge number, it could be helpful in the future or for others.*
*ICE does not respect your human dignity, but we do. Others you will find in Honduras through this list will also treat you well and support you as much as they can.
When you arrive in Honduras
- To stay safe, make a friend on the bus or plane. Stay together to support each other.
- Be alert and calm. Blend in and comply with authority.
- Avoid casual street encounters, including eye contact.
- Don’t look vulnerable, but also don’t look cocky.
- Be prepared for bribes. Have $40 to $100 in cash in $10s and $20s, and keep them in different pockets.
- Beware of criminal elements. Don’t use an offered cell phone to call your family. Create a “palabra clave” or code word with family members in case someone calls asking for ransom. You should decide what you want your family to do if you are speaking to them under duress.
- Keep contact information for your family in Honduras (and all documents that prove your identity and deportation status) on you, not in your bag.
Cautions for San Pedro Sula
- Be very careful about whom you trust.
- Keep information close. Listen to the advice of people close to you.
- Take advice from friends or family about how best to stay safe.
- There is not open violence everywhere in San Pedro Sula (or in the rest of Honduras), but certain neighborhoods are very dangerous. Drug cartels and maras do operate here, but only in certain neighborhoods. It can change from one block to the next.
- The neighborhoods closest to the airport are controlled by MS-13 and the 18th Street gang. Take special caution in these areas.
- If you have tattoos, be prepared to wear long sleeves and explain what your tattoos mean. This won't necessarily save you, but depending on where you are going, your tattoos might be the thing that puts you most at risk.
- While advice to "not look vulnerable or too cocky" applies in Mexico, in Honduras sometimes either of those things is a smart strategy.
People are flown to Honduras from several detention centers in the U.S. Those deported from Denver generally depart from Florence, Arizona. Their wrists and ankles are shackled until about 10 minutes before they land. All deportees are sent to San Pedro Sula, the industrial capital of the country (not the political capital, Tegucigalpa), near the northern coast.
Minors and their families are taken on a bus from the airport to a center called Belen, run by the OIM (Organización Internacional Para Las Migraciones) and DINAF (Directorate for Children, Youth and Family). At Belen, they are interviewed, given food, have access to a psychologist, and can make phone calls. In rare cases, they may stay the night there, although most families leave after being processed. Unaccompanied minors must be picked up by a parent or guardian. Until then, they stay in Belen.
Adults deported by the U.S. are processed at the CAMR (Centro de Atención al Migrante Retornado), a center at the San Pedro Sula airport. After getting off the plane, they are bused to CAMR. CAMR is run by the Scalabrinia nuns through the Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana. As people file in to the center, their belongings are returned to them.
- Food and coffee
- Access to medical and psychological care
- A representative from Cancillería can help with getting documents people need.
- Phone calls
People wait in line to be interviewed one by one by a volunteer collecting basic information (on any given day, there are between five and 15 volunteers conducting these interviews). If these volunteers suspect that someone is at risk, they send them to a representative from the Norwegian Refugee Council, who takes them into a separate room for a more detailed interview to determine if they want and are eligible for other kinds of protection.
After processing at CAMR:
- After being processed at CAMR, people are free to leave. There is a bus that takes those who want to go to San Pedro Sula's Central Bus Terminal. From there, people can take a bus to any part of the country. If people do not have money, at CAMR they can ask for a voucher, which they can exchange for bus fare to their hometowns on a specific bus line. However, if people have any cash with them, they do not receive this assistance. There are people at CAMR who change dollars to lempiras.
- After leaving CAMR, deportees are mostly on their own. The government and NGOs offer various forms of assistance and programs for deportees. CAMR can assist people in accessing these programs.
- UMAR (Unidad Municipal de Atención al Retornado), located in many municipalities, are clearinghouses that direct people to other forms of assistance.
- Federación Luterana in Olancho offers skills training and microenterprise.
- Comisión de Acción Social Menonita in San Pedro Sula offers skills training and microenterprise.
- The Red Cross is starting similar projects in Ceiba, Progreso, and Tegucigalpa.
- The International Organization for Migration (OIM) offers some assistance for deportees.
- Casa Alianza provides programs for deported minors.
- NOTE: As of June 2017, none of the NGOs are able to be present in the deportee reception centers (Belen, CAMR, and a third one, in Omoa, where adult deportees from Mexico are processed).
- This has made it very hard for NGOs to reach deportees to offer them their services.
- If people choose to go to the UMAR, for example, the person there might give the deportee information about the programs available in their area.
- However, very few people in Honduras think of going to a state agency for assistance, and the UMARs are new as of 2018, so not that many people seek support there.
- Unlike people deported to Mexico, most Hondurans return with current ID (as they were not living in the U.S. for long). However, those who don't have their cédula, as it is called, do not generally report having much trouble getting a new one.
- Everyone in Honduras has a unique ID number, which is used for everything. The main issue in getting a new ID is having to wait in long lines!